he Women’s Center registration clerk, Melinda Blackwelder, flanks the new 3D Pristina machine with mammography technologists Kimmy Thompson and Alison Burton.

October is known for the beautiful fall foliage and autumnal colors that dot our landscape and usher in the upcoming holiday season. It is also the month designated for breast cancer awareness and is sometimes referred to as “Pinktober,” reflecting the pink ribbons and clothing worn symbolically to support breast health education and advocacy. 

 Here are the 2020 breast cancer statistics as reported by the American Cancer Society and the National Breast Cancer Foundation: 

n In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

n 64 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, for which the five-year survival rate is 99 percent. 

n 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

n At the time of diagnosis, approximately 64 percent of breast cancer patients have local-stage breast cancer, 27 percent have regional stage, and 6 percent have distant (metastatic) disease. 

n Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in this year, approximately 30 percent of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.

n This year, an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S. 

n Approximately, 1 in 39 women (3 percent) will die from breast cancer. 

n Breast cancer accounts for 15 percent of total cancer deaths and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, following lung cancer. 

n In 2020, an estimated 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and approximately 520 will die. 

n Men are more likely than women (51 percent versus 36 percent) to be diagnosed with advanced regional (or distant-stage) breast cancer, which likely reflects delayed detection because of decreased awareness. 

n There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. 

n Due to early detection and increased breast cancer awareness, there were an estimated 375,900 fewer breast cancer deaths (Note: Report compares the last decade with this data estimated for 2017 – information for this year has not yet been released).

n 81percent of breast cancer diagnoses in the United States are invasive, for which the five-year survival rate is 91 percent.

At Russell Medical, we’re committed to improving your health, including detecting breast cancer at its earliest stage when it’s often easier to treat and cure.

We are proud of our new diagnostic capabilities in the fight against breast cancer, as we   recently installed our GE Senographe Pristina 3D mammography system. Three-dimensional mammography, also called digital breast tomosynthesis, creates a three-dimensional picture of the breast using X-rays. Several low-dose images from different angles around the breast are used to create a series of dimensional, fine-detailed images paired with iCAD Profound AI, allowing for the best evaluation of breast tissue, layer-by-layer.

Digital tomosynthesis of the breast is different from a standard 2D mammogram in the same way a CT scan of the chest is different from a standard chest X-ray. By comparison, think of the difference between a ball and a circle. One is three-dimensional; the other is flat. The images are much more clear and detailed.   

3D mammography may be a more accurate way of screening dense breasts. Wondering how you know if you have dense breasts? That’s a conversation all women should have with their doctors. Breasts are made up of glandular, connective and fatty tissues. They’re considered dense if they have a lot of glandular and connective tissues and not much fatty tissue. About half of women over 40 have dense breasts.

We know that early detection saves lives. 3D mammograms are more accurate, detect cancers at an earlier stage and have fewer false positives. For residents in the Lake Martin area, there’s no need to travel elsewhere to get the most advanced breast imaging available. It’s right here in Alexander City. Talk to your physician about scheduling your 3D mammogram today. You will be welcomed by the mammography technologists you know and trust, Alison Burton and Kimmy Thompson, who together have 48 years of expertise conducting mammograms at Russell Medical. For more information, call 256-329-7246.

For women diagnosed with breast cancer, we have three UAB Medicine breast specialists on staff at Russell Medical. Dr. Helen Krontiras, Dr. Rachael Lancaster and Dr. Catherine Parker see patients in the surgery clinic in our Professional Building should your physician send you for further evaluation. 

Additionally, UAB Medicine – Russell Medical Cancer Center began treating patients with respiratory gating technology in August 2018. Respiratory gating radiation therapy provides treatment between breaths to protect the heart of left-sided breast cancer patients.

In the past, many patients with left-sided breast cancer were recommended to temporarily relocate to Birmingham to receive radiation treatment with respiratory gating technology. Now, almost all breast cancer patients can stay home for their radiation treatments. This technology is part of a comprehensive effort by the cancer center to bring the highest quality of care to our breast cancer patients. 

For 15 years, it has been our pleasure to host the annual Breast Cancer Awareness luncheon. Due to the current pandemic, we are going to skip this year and look forward to a very special event in 2021. 

Ladies, please be proactive with your breast health. Conduct monthly self-exams, have an annual examination by a physician and have an annual mammogram.  

Susan Foy is marketing director at Russell Medical.