What to know about breast cancer and how to stop it in early stages

By Sahar Chmais
Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the U.S., but early detection means a higher survival rate. October of each year is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This year in the U.S., more than 281,000 women will get breast cancer and more than 43,000 women will die from it, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of death in women in the U.S.
Solutions to increase the survival rate from breast cancer exist, and they can begin with the individual – but everyone should stay aware of their breast health.
While women are more likely to suffer from breast cancer, men are also liable to getting this cancer – one out of 100 breast cancer diagnoses are found in men, said Dr. Mariela Hession, medical director of breast imaging at Ascension Texas Imaging.
“A common misconception is that breast cancer only affects females,” Hession told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch. “So we are reminding everyone to do self exams and tell your doctor if you notice anything unusual.”
When breast cancer is detected early in a localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99%, according to the American Cancer Society. People can perform monthly self-exams and attend annual breast exams and mammograms to stay aware of their breast health.
Another factor to consider in the mammogram report includes dense breast tissue, found in almost 40% of women, according to the American College of Radiology. Dense breast tissue is normal, but it can affect the reading of a mammogram.
Dense breast tissue and cancerous masses both appear white in the imaging, and sometimes the dense breast tissue can hide tumors, making it more challenging to find cancer cells, explained Hession.
If a mammogram shows dense breast tissue, Hession recommends patients talk to their providers to determine the best screening options based on family history and other risk factors. Additional screening may be needed.
Hays County residents have access to mammogram screenings across the county.
They can visit the following locations, or ask their provider for other locations:
  • Ascension Texas Imaging, Kyle, located at 5103 Kyle Center Dr., Kyle
  • Ascension Seton Hays, located at 6001 Kyle Parkway, Kyle
  • ARA Diagnostic Imaging, at 4211 Benner Rd Ste 100, Kyle
  • ARA Diagnostic Imaging, located at 1348 Texas 123 South, Ste B, San Marcos
  • ARA Diagnostic Imaging, located at 170 Benney Ln Ste 101, Dripping Springs

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Sahar Chmais holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been covering cities in Hays County for one year, touching on residents' struggles and successes, city issues, COVID-19 and more. Prior to reporting on the local spectrum, Sahar reported for a national news organization, covering gun violence. Sahar enjoys working as a local reporter because she gets to work with real people and their stories.

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