Just One Thing: A Warning About Warning Signs

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 16, 2015

In our understandable fervor to make sure no woman on the planet fails to understand the formula for breast cancer screening and early detection, we have stopped talking about something really, really important.

The formula, of course, is following guidelines for Clinical Breast Exams, Self Exams and Screening Mammograms. But guess what? Not all breast cancers are detected by mammograms. Fortunately, that’s not true for most breast cancers, but it’s true for some. That means we need to know the warning signs of breast cancer.

I’ll be honest. I came up with the idea for this topic because I realized that I had no idea what the warnings signs are. Maybe I knew them at one time and just forgot them in the comfort of knowing I follow the above-mentioned formula.

The warning symptoms are not terribly complicated or hard to understand. It won’t take long to read about them, and it’s definitely worth the minutes it will take. You’re already here on the website – just click on the article that starts out with the words, ‘WHOOPS! When did we stop talking about…’

To rephrase, if breast cancer warning signs stared back at you in the mirror, would you recognize them?

Just One Thing to Think About.

Whoops! When Did We Stop Talking About…

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 15, 2015

…Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?

Thanks to awareness of the fabulous benefits of mammography in screening for breast cancer, as well as other imaging advances, the disease in most women is picked up very early and staged for treatment well before there are any warning signs. This is a great thing because it has increased survival for patients tremendously. Having said that, not all breast cancers are detected by mammography. We need to know the warning signs of breast cancer so we don’t miss them. If these signs appear, we want to recognize them quickly and take action fast.

So, What Are the Warning Signs?

The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple and nipple discharge. Be sure to watch for these signs and get in touch with your healthcare provider right away.

  • Lump, Hard Knot or Thickening inside the Breast or Underarm Area
  • Swelling, Warmth, Darkening or Redness of the Breast
  • Change in the Size or Shape of the Breast
  • New Pain in One Part of the Breast that Does Not Go Away
  • Puckering or Dimpling of the Skin
  • Itchy, scaly Sore or Rash on the Nipple
  • Pulling in of Your Nipple or Other Part of the Breast
  • Nipple Discharge that Starts Suddenly

Often, experiencing some of the conditions above is not breast cancer but a benign or noncancerous breast condition. But you cannot know that for sure unless you see your doctor or other healthcare provider.

It may help to look at images that give you an idea what the symptoms listed above may look like. Examples are available online. So is more in-depth information on this topic. We encourage you to take a few minutes, read, learn and remember. Getting our mammograms and clinical breast exams plus self-exams are terrific, but we can’t stop there.

Knowing the warning signs is just as critical. It’s one more way of Standing Up to Breast Cancer.

Breast Cancer By The Numbers

by Lauren Gajda October 13, 2015

There are so many statistics out there about breast cancer. Some show positive changes, and others show that we still have work to do to get out the message about breast cancer awareness. Take a look at the infographic below. It breaks out some of the numbers to make them easier to understand. At North Florida Regional Medical Center, we are proud to continue Standing Up to Breast Cancer.

Just One Thing: Breast Cancer And Family History

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. In fact, only about 10 percent of women diagnosed have a first-degree female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer. So, is there a link at all? The answer is yes. Research shows us that the younger a relative was when she was diagnosed with the disease, the greater a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.

So what if you find out you have a family history of breast cancer and what if you find out you don’t? Either way, knowing your family history is very important. Know what else is important? Getting your mammogram. Early detection is key.

With 500 flamingos sitting in front of the Duck Pond at North Florida Regional, a gigantic pink ribbon of inner tubes floating in the pond, a Standing Up to Breast Cancer banner hanging by the display and a breast cancer MythBUSTers program coming up on October 22, it’s clear that North Florida Regional wants to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Three important lessons – Think Pink. Know Your Genes. Get Your Mammogram.
Just One (well, maybe three) Things to Think About.

Link To Pink: Is There A Link Between Genetics And Breast Cancer?

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Each year, North Florida Regional Medical Center (NFRMC) proudly displays 500 pink flamingos and a gigantic pink ribbon of inner tubes at our Duck Pond during the month of October. Our message is about how important it is that we continue Standing Up to Breast Cancer. The flamingos represent the women who have been treated for breast cancer at NFRMC in the past two years. This year, a few breast cancer survivors helped us place the flamingos by the duck pond. In this TV20 Health Report, they talk about their family history. Some had it in their family history. Others did not. What does all of this mean? Well, Dr. Tina Lam shares more with us about the link between genetics and breast cancer. Watch this report to learn more. And don’t forget to register for Breast Cancer MythBUSTers. Call (800) 611-6913 to learn more.

Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?

by Lauren Gajda October 9, 2015

Do you have a family history of breast cancer? If so, is there a connection between genetics and breast cancer? General Surgeon Dr. Tina Lam, who performs surgery for breast cancer patients at North Florida Regional Medical Center, talks with WCJB TV-20 Anchor Markeya Thomas and explains what we should all understand about family history and what we should do based on that history.

If you want to know more about breast cancer and genetics, don’t forget to register for our ‘Breast Cancer MythBUSTers’ program at The Cancer Center of North Florida Regional. It will be held on Thursday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. Dr. Lam will be among the physician speakers. She’ll be busting myths that get in the way of risk reduction, early detection and effective treatment. We hope you’ll join us. In the meantime, watch the video below to hear what Dr. Lam has to say.

Standing Up To Breast Cancer

by Pamela Rittenhouse October 6, 2015

It’s October. That means it’s time for hundreds of pink plastic flamingos to stand up in front of our Duck Pond at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Floating in the pond behind the flamingos is a giant pink ribbon made of inner tubes. The only way you could miss it would be to close your eyes very tightly as you drive past. Please don’t try that. You might have an accident, and you would miss a whole lot of pink.

Why So Much Pink, You Ask?

Because breast cancer is still a major problem for many of us, that’s why. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall. It is a leading cause of cancer death in less developed countries and the second leading cause of cancer death in American women, exceeded only by lung cancer. If you think we all know so much about breast cancer that we don’t need to talk about it anymore, you’re wrong. So, whatever we can do to get attention is a good time. For us, that translates into 500 pink flamingos, 100 inner tubes and a whole lot of volunteers.

Speaking of Numbers

Around the World: – Nearly 1.7 million new breast cancer cases were diagnosed in 2012. – Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and men
worldwide. – In 2012, it represented about 12 percent of all new cancer cases and 25 percent of all cancers in women. – Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in 140 of 184 countries worldwide. – Globally, breast cancer now represents one in four of all cancers in women. – Since 2008, worldwide breast cancer incidence has increased by more than 20 percent. Mortality has increased by 14 percent.

In the United States:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women after skin cancer.
  • 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2015.
  • 62,570 new cases of breast carcinoma in situ (non-invasive, has not invaded nearby tissue), including ductal carcinoma in situ and lobular carcinoma in situ.
  • 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.
  • 2,350 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men.
  • 440 men will die from breast cancer.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for female invasive breast cancer patients has improved from 75 percent in the mid-1970s to 90 percent today.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed with localized breast cancer (cancer that hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or outside the breast) is 98.5 percent.
  • In cancer that has spread to nearby lymph nodes (regional stage) or to distant lymph nodes or organs (distant stage), the survival rate falls to 84 percent or 24 percent, respectively.
  • There are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., including women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.

Now What?

We’re working on a variety of articles on this website for you. Keep watching for those throughout the month. We’re partnering with WCJB-TV20 for television news coverage about what researchers know and are working on about genetics and breast cancer. What does your family history mean about your risk for breast cancer, and what can you do about it if you know breast cancer runs in your family? And we’re planning a community event called “Breast Cancer MythBUSTers” on October 22nd. All month, we hope you will join us in….
Standing Up to Breast Cancer!

Famous Women With Gyn Cancers

by Pamela Rittenhouse September 25, 2015

Why take the time to consider famous women who have faced one of the gynecologic (GYN) cancers? Well, let’s face it. There is something about us that usually finds those stories interesting, and we are more likely to stop and read about a celebrity’s encounter with a serious disease. In doing so, there is a chance we’ll learn something that might help us recognize it if the signs of one of those diseases show up for us or a relative or friend. So, here we go.

Coretta Scott King

After the death of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King carried on the slain Civil Rights activist’s legacy and took an active approach in the struggle for racial equality. Scott King was also an ardent supporter in the women’s movement and LBGT fight for equality. She remained active up until her health started to deteriorate in 2005. Scott King checked into a medical facility in Mexico under a different name for holistic therapy to treat complications of a stroke and advanced stages of ovarian cancer. She passed away in Mexico in January of 2006.

Eva Peron

Often known as Evita, Eva Peron was the first lady of Argentina. She died in the early 1950s when she was only 33 of advanced cervical cancer. Interestingly, her diagnosis was kept a secret from the public and from her. How sad – in our world today, cervical cancer can be screened for prevention or early diagnosis and successful treatment.

Shannon Miller

The most decorated gymnast in U.S. history, Shannon Miller won seven Olympic medals and many others in national and international competitions. But her most important victory to date isn’t gold, silver, or bronze – it’s teal. That’s the color for ovarian cancer awareness. At the age of 33, Miller was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. She has continued to speak out so that other women can learn from her.

More Famous Names We Can Learn From about GYN Cancers

Fran Drescher

As the star of the TV show, ‘The Nanny,’ Fran Drescher made many of us laugh. It was no laughing matter, though, when the actress was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Unlike ovarian cancer, uterine cancer can be fairly easily diagnosed in its early stages and successfully treated. Dresher’s was not diagnosed early, and she has put a lot of effort into awareness so that other women will not have to endure what she did.

Kathy Bates

Bates first made her acting debut in theater before switching to film and television. She rose to prominence after walking away with both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actress thanks to her role in the 1990 psychological thriller “Misery.” In 2002, Bates took some time off after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After undergoing treatment, Bates was free and clear to return back to her hectic schedule. However, two years ago Bates announced on twitter than she had been diagnosed breast cancer and had a double mastectomy.

Judy Blume

Millions of women have grown up reading Judy Blume’s books. The famed author was one of the first to write novels for teenagers that discussed sensitive topics like racism, menstruation, bullying and divorce. In 2012, Blume penned a post on her blog that brought many of her readers to tears. She revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and 18 years earlier she had undergone a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer.

There are still more names. Gilda Radner. Liz Lange. Jessica Tandy. Madeline Kahn. Dinah Shore. Loretta Young. Those aren’t all the names of celebrities who faced GYN cancers. But they make the point. If they faced them, we might, too. So?

Here’s What We Should Watch For

According to the American Cancer Society, these can be signs of one of the GYN cancers:

  • abnormal vagina bleeding or discharge
  • abdominal pain
  • pelvic pain or pressure
  • bloating
  • frequent urination
  • trouble eating
  • changes in bathroom habits
  • itching or burning of the vulva
  • change in color of the vulva or skin such as a rash, sores or warts

While these are among the most common early symptoms of the GYN cancers, they’re also common in a lot of other far less serious conditions, which makes them easy to overlook or brush off. If they happen and don’t disappear after just a day or two, talk to your doctor. Be smart. Ask questions.

How To Prevent, Detect And Treat Gyn Cancer

by Lauren Gajda September 18, 2015

Only women get GYN Cancers, yet women hardly know much about them. Is it because it feels unladylike to talk about our most private parts? Well, talking about them with your doctor is smart, and all women should be aware of warning signs. The truth is, cervical cancer can be prevented, and other GYN Cancers can be detected early — both of which can save your life.

Dr. Daylene Ripley, the Gynecologic Oncologist who cares for women with GYN Cancers at North Florida Regional talks with WCJB-TV20 News Anchor Markeya Thomas about these cancers – what women should know and do to increase the chances for earlier detection when treatment is more successful.

September is GYN Cancer Awareness Month, so we’ll continue sharing information that women need to know. For now, watch the video below and learn what Dr. Ripley says about the different types of GYN Cancers and how early diagnosis can increase the chance of survival.

Just One Thing: The Lifesaving Pap

by Lauren Gajda September 18, 2015

Did you know that cervical cancer was a major cause of death among women of childbearing age back in the 1940s? We’ve made huge strides since then because of a little test that was introduced in the 1950s. Any idea what that test is called?

The Pap Smear! If you don’t already know about it, we encourage you to see your gynecologist and have the test done. Honestly, it’s such a simple test that you may have had one recently and forgotten what it was called because it just seems like a normal part of a check-up.

Since the Pap Smear was introduced, cervical cancer and death rates have gone down tremendously in America. The Pap is definitely a lifesaver.

If you haven’t seen you’re gynecologist in a while, make an appointment and ask about the Pap. Don’t let the unknowns of the 1940s affect us today. Just one thing to think about….