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Early Detection is the Key to Breast Cancer Survival

Posted on September 22, 2014

Early Detection is the Key to Breast Cancer Survival

Women who undergo routine mammograms at South Central Regional Medical Center now have access to the latest diagnostic and comfort technology available. The Breast Care Center at South Central Regional Medical Center provides women with a digital mammogram along with Soft Touch MammoPad®, a breast cushion that makes the exam more comfortable.

SoftTouch Mammo Pad

SoftTouch Mammo Pad

South Central Regional Medical Center offers the newest technology for breast cancer detection. Digital mammography provides high quality breast images and special tools that allow the radiologist to see more detail than ever before. This advanced imaging technology helps clinicians detect breast cancer at the earliest stage possible.

In addition to offering superior mammography technology, South Central Regional Medical Center offers a warmer, softer and more comfortable mammogram by using the Soft Touch MammoPad breast cushion for every patient. Soft Touch MammoPad has been clinically demonstrated to reduce discomfort, associated with mammograms, for most women. This breast cushion is “invisible” to X-rays and does not interfere with the image quality of the mammogram.

Early Detection

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. Within the United States there are over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors.  This is because most breast cancer can be completely cured if it is detected early.  There is a 1-in-8 chance that a woman will have invasive breast cancer sometime during her life, so regular screenings are very important for early detection and survival of the disease.

Most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous) growths that do not spread and are not life-threatening.  However, there are many different types of breast cancer.  Breast cancer can become a very serious disease in the advanced stages that can spread through the lymph system to other parts of the body.

Risk Factors

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, women in Mississippi who are likely to have advanced stages of breast cancer include minorities, elderly women and the medically underserved.  This reflects differences in access to screenings and access to information about the symptoms of breast cancer.  Shannon Penland, M.D., Hematologist and Medical Oncologist for South Central Cancer Center, states, although positive family history is a risk factor for the development of breast cancer, there are several other risk factors that have also been identified.

Women identified to be at higher risk for developing breast cancer include:

  • Women who do not have children or had them later in life
  • Women who have recently used birth control pills
  • Women who receive Postmenopausal Combination Hormone Therapy not estrogen alone
  • Women who did not breast feed
  • Women who drink alcohol
  • Women who are overweight or obese
  • Women who do not exercise

Detection and Diagnosis

Screenings help to detect breast cancer in the early stages.  Most breast cancer detected at an early stage can be completely cured.  Thousands of lives are saved each year by early detection screenings because they can detect breast cancer before symptoms appear.  Screening tools for early detection include mammograms, clinical breast exams and breast self-exams.

A lump in the breast is usually the most common sign of breast cancer.  However, there are other important symptoms that should be reported to a doctor immediately if they are noticed.

Other breast cancer symptoms include:

  • Swelling, dimpling or irritation of the skin
  • Pain in the breast
  • Inverted nipple/pain in the nipple/irritation/ulceration of the skin on the nipple
  • Skin that appears red, scaly or thick
  • Discharge other than milk
  • A lump in the underarm area

Dr. Penland says, “There are several things that women just do not recognize as being a problem and unfortunately that leads them to wait before they seek any sort of diagnosis. Early detection is key to treating breast cancer.  The earlier the stage of breast cancer the better the chance of survival.”

The very early breast cancers have a 97 to 100 percent chance of cure but once it spreads to the lymph nodes or elsewhere the chance of cure goes down significantly.

Comprehensive Cancer Care

Shannon Penland, M.D.

Shannon Penland, M.D.

South Central Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer treatment to breast cancer patients in Laurel and the surrounding areas.  Dr. Penland says “We provide excellent care here.  We have all of the components of state-of-the-art breast cancer treatment in Laurel including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and cosmetic reconstruction services.”

Dr. Penland believes the two most important recommendations to women for early detection and survival of breast cancer are to do monthly self-breast exams and yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Contact your OB-GYN provider or Primary Care provider immediately if you notice anything at all that might be a symptom of breast cancer. By offering women a softer mammogram, the center hopes to increase the number of area women who follow recommendations for regular screenings.

For more information on Soft Touch MammoPad or the comprehensive cancer program in Laurel at the South Central Cancer Center, please visit our website at