SWEETWATER COUNTY — One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in their lifetime, according to a statistic provided by the Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.
During a proclamation read at both the Rock Springs City Council and Green River City Council meetings earlier this month, breast cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer in women and the second highest leading cause of death among women in the United States.
In 2020, the American Cancer Society estimates 279,100 women in the United States will be diagnosed with this kind of cancer and 42,690 will die from the disease.
In October, pink is worn to show support for those diagnosed with breast cancer and cancer survivors. MHSC nurse in the radiation and oncology department, Eva Wasseen, recently spoke about breast cancer at the Rock Springs City Council meeting.
“One in four people will eventually get some kind of cancer in their lifetime,” Wasseen said. “One in eight women will get breast cancer.”
Early detection through screening and exams can catch the disease when it’s most treatable. Wasseen said this isn’t just true for breast cancer, but for all cancer.
Mammograms can detect a lump in the breast long before it becomes palpable, she said. Women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram and a clinical exam at least once a year. She said it’s important for a woman to do both because a doctor may also catch a lump in the clinical exam, while a mammogram can detect lumps a doctor may not catch.
The new 3D mammography can also detect lumps in woman with dense breast tissue. Wasseen said this helps with how many call backs a woman may receive.
Wasseen not only wanted to encourage women to visit their doctors annually, but to pay attention to their body.
“Women need to be aware of their bodies,” Wasseen said. “If you see any changes, no matter how trivial it may seem, go to your doctor and ask them about it…”
One of the biggest forms of prevention is limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day, she said.
Women should also try to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and remain physically active.
She said these prevention tips are not just for breast cancer, but for other types of cancer, such as colon cancer.
The whole goal is to increase the amount of those who survive breast cancer through early detection, Wasseen said.
There is a big difference between the survival rate of a stage 1 patient, which is about 98 percent and a stage three or four patient, which is 28 percent. Usually, in stage four, the cancer has already spread, which is why the survival rate is so slow, she said.
“We want to catch it when it’s in that early stage,” Wasseen said.