South Central Cancer Center’s New Cancer Specialist Talks About The Importance of Early Detection of Breast Cancer
“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,” Sandeep Singh, MD
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.
Sandeep Singh, MD Medical Oncologist/Hematologist South Central Cancer Center
Sandeep Singh, MD, the new Hematologist/Medical Oncologist at South Central Cancer Center recently completed a fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, before moving to Laurel and accepting the position of Medical Director of the Cancer Center. He said, “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. However, women in those categories are not the only ones who I see with breast cancer.”
“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,” Dr. Singh said.
“I encourage women to really get to know their body. They know their body better than anyone else. 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
- your breast is swelling, dimpling or has an irritation of the skin;
- you have pain in your breast;
- you have an Inverted nipple; pain in the nipple; or irritation or ulceration of the skin on the nipple;
- your skin on your breast appears red, scaly or thick;
- you have discharge from the nipple, other than milk; or
- you have a lump in the underarm area,” he said.
South Central Cancer Center provides comprehensive cancer treatment to breast cancer patients in Laurel and the surrounding areas. Dr. Singh continued by saying, “We provide excellent care within our local medical community. 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. Singh 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.”
Dr. Singh said 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
- Women who did not breastfeed
- Women who drink alcohol
- Women who are overweight or obese
- Women who do not exercise
“One of the things that impressed me when I visited South Central Regional Medical Center was the facility 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,” Dr. Singh said. “Patient comfort is also important. The Breast Care Center at South Central offers each patient a warmer, softer and more comfortable mammogram by using the Soft Touch MammoPad breast cushion.”
Dr. Singh said, “About 40% of women have dense breast tissue. And for those women, mammograms alone may not be enough to find breast cancer. South Central Regional Medical Center now offers Invenia™ ABUS, the only breast cancer screening technology FDA-approved for detection in women with dense breast tissue.” Breasts are made of fat and breast tissue. Some women have more fat than breast tissue while others have more breast tissue than fat. When there is more breast tissue the breast is considered dense. On a mammogram dense tissue looks white. Since masses or lumps also appear white on a mammogram, a suspicious lump may be masked by the dense breast tissue. “Dense breast tissue is also linked with an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer. Women with extremely dense breast tissue have a 4 to 6 times greater risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not have dense breast tissue,” Dr. Singh said. Breast density is determined by the radiologist who reads your mammogram and classifies the density into one of four categories. Your doctor will tell you if you have dense breasts based on your mammogram’s classification on the density scale.
Dr. Singh concluded by saying, “Do not wait to see your provider if you find a lump, have pain in your breast, if the skin on your breast appears red, scaly or thick, have inverted nipples, if your breast are red, dimpling and swelling. Women know if there is a change in their breast. Seek help immediately if you see changes such as this. Remember, if caught early, you have a 97%-100% chance of a cure.”