SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a common form of cancer that over 240,000 Americans are diagnosed with each year.
“Breast cancer occurs any time that cells divide rapidly in a way that is uncontrolled or doesn’t follow the rules of polite society,” said Glenda Flynn, an Advance Oncology Nurse Practitioner at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
Though common, it is highly treatable especially in its early stages. Prevention starts with making sure you’re knowledgeable about your family history of breast cancer, and getting those pre-screenings and mammograms based on your individual risk factor.
“Let’s take an average risk woman, meaning never had any cancer and no family history, they should start having mammograms at age 40… a woman who is considered high-risk for breast cancer, then there is a different ways of screening. Sometimes include an MRI, sometimes include more frequent breast exams. Sometimes it includes doing some sort of testing of genes also,” said Dr. Dan Siddiqui, Medical Director for the MGH Cancer Center at Cooley Dickinson Hospital.
One local survivor, celebrating being cancer free at the Rays for Hope Walk on Sunday, told 22News getting a mammogram saved her life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022 after going in for a routine screening.
“I was shocked. No symptoms, felt great. No lumps. The typical things you always here, ‘I felt a lump, I didn’t feel well.’ I felt great. So I guess that’s why you have screening mammograms. For anybody who hasn’t had one out there, get your butt in gear and get going,” said Michelle Lavalley of Chicopee.
According to the CDC, lifestyle modifications, including increased exercise, reduced alcohol consumption and being aware of risks associated with taking hormones are additional preventive actions.