Finding breast cancer early through screening major tool for beating disease

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis in the United States. Dr. Srinath Sundararajan, an oncologist and hematologist with Texas Oncology-Katy, says early detection saves lives and that screening is important, even during the pandemic.

“Delaying cancer screenings will lead to detecting cancer at a later stage, and definitely that leads to more aggressive disease, more lengthy treatment and an increased healthcare cost,” Sundararajan said. “Cancer when identified early, there is a better chance of it being a curable cancer and better chance of having less intensive treatment. Screening cancer and finding it early is the single most effective way of improving cancer survival rates.”

He explained that since the 1980s, advances in breast cancer treatments have improved mortality rates, but screening has played a major role because it allows patients to seek treatment earlier in the disease.

While Sundararajan said mammograms are the main breast cancer detection tool, women talking with their health care providers about how to do a proper self-breast exam can enhance their breast health awareness and act as another tool. He said they should look for unusual changes in their breasts, including lumps, changes in the contour of the nipple, skin color changes, puckering of the skin or a new nipple discharge that occurs without apparent reason. Women should seek immediate medical attention with their health care provider if any of these symptoms occur.

While the age that a woman should get her first mammogram depends on several factors such as family history, Sundararajan explained that a woman with average risk should have a discussion with her doctor when she is between 40 and 50 years old. He said the frequency for mammograms will vary based on the results of that first one. Women should certainly have mammograms from age 50 to age 75, Sundararajan said.

The pandemic has had a large impact on cancer. A study showed that diagnoses of breast, cervical and colon cancer were down about 90 percent at one point. Sundararajan said the numbers have improved but are still down overall by about 30 percent since before COVID-19.

“It doesn’t mean that cancer was not happening or that new cancer was not occurring during those times,” he said. “Those are all missed diagnoses, which would probably impact them later in the future. Once they’re diagnosed, they might be at a later stage.”

Sundararajan explained that 90 to 95 percent of patients whose breast cancer is detected early respond well to treatment and are still living five years later. Those survival rates decrease when the cancer is found later.

Sundararajan emphasized that it is safe to go out for cancer screenings. He said clinics, diagnostic offices and doctors’ offices are taking precautions so that people do not catch or spread the novel coronavirus. Many medical facilities require masks and temperature checks to enter and are

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Dentist hopes to return to work in early June | News

If you keep eating all your quarantine candy, soon you may need your dentist.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dentists who are not performing life-saving operations are out of a job.

“Our offices in Saginaw we’ve missed some 1,500-dental cleaning,” said Dentist Donald Sabourin.

Sabourin said he is anxious to get back to work but it going to take a lot of preparation.

“The CDC has said dental hygienist have the highest potential of exposure, just below respiratory therapists,” Sabourin said.

Margret Gingrich with the Michigan Dental Association said it will be hard to work because dentists can’t practice social distancing.

“We can’t have patients wear masks because we can’t see inside the mouth,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich said the dental association is advising dentists to make all staff and patients wear masks and take extra sanitizing precautions.

“Even our sterilizers double sterilize and have been doing that since the 1980s,” Gingrich said.

Sabourin said his office won’t use their lobby. He said they are installing special equipment so that patients can call in from the parking lot.

“What we call extra oral suction units. That will be above the patient’s head removing the extra aerosol that comes off the patient’s mouth as we’re doing procedures,” Sabourin said. “It’s kind of above and beyond what the CDC recommends.”

Another issue many dentists are having is the shortage of PPE after donating supplies to first responders.

“We have sent a letter to Governor Whitmer requesting to be put on the list when she received the FEMA PPE. And we’ve been told we’re on that list,” Sabourin said.

Sabourin hopes to receive the supplies and return to work by early June.

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