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During Breast Cancer Awareness Month CMC/DHK Keene Offers Simple Message: the Earlier, the Better

October 17, 2012
Keene, NH

Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene (CMC/DHK) wants women in Cheshire County to know that the best protection against breast cancer is early detection. Breast cancer is a real threat to women.  Each year in New Hampshire about 1,034 will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 174 will die of the disease.

When detected at its earliest stages, 98 percent of women survive breast cancer. "The sooner you spot it- the easier it is to treat," shares Dr. Steven Larmon, Medical Director, Norris Cotton Cancer Center - Kingsbury Pavilion at CMC/DHK.

Dr. Larmon says spotting breast cancer early gives women better treatment options. "At the earliest stage, treatment is often less severe and less aggressive," said Dr. Larmon. "You may only need a single lump removed instead of an entire breast."

Doctors recommend regular breast cancer screening for women 50-69 years old who have no signs, symptoms, or history of breast problems. Women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may be screened even younger than 50. Women 70 years and older should talk to their health care provider about establishing a breast cancer screening schedule aligned with their current health and past history.

To increase awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening, CMC/DHK and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center-Kingsbury Pavilion will share materials during the month of October using lemons as a teaching aid to help women understand the signs and symptoms of breast cancer as well as the anatomy of the breast.  "We want women to know what to look out for and understand the pros and cons of screening," says Dr. Larmon.  

Breast cancer screening, which usually relies on mammography, is considered safe and effective by leading organizations. It does, however, have a few drawbacks.

Breast cancer screening tests can lead to:

  1. False positives: Test results that may "look" like cancer, but after additional testing, prove not to be cancer.
  2. Over diagnosis: A positive test result for a slow-growing cancer that would never spread fast enough to cause serious illness or death.
  3. Missed diagnosis: Breast cancer screening tests can fail to detect cancer when it is present

Deciding to have a screening test is a personal decision most women make after talking with a health care provider. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center offers an on-line tool called "When Should I Start Having Mammograms" at www.cancer.dartmouth.edu. It helps women consider the facts before they sit down to talk to their health care provider. If a woman does not have a regular health care provider or health insurance, programs in each state can help qualified individuals receive free screenings in their local community. To learn more about a specific state's breast cancer screening program, call 2-1-1 or visit www.211.org.

Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene is a nonprofit community hospital and clinic with a mission to lead our community to become the nation's healthiest through our clinical and service excellence, collaboration, and compassion for every patient, every time. Founded by CMC/DHK, Vision 2020 is a community-wide health initiative designed to actively engage the citizens of Cheshire County in the process of becoming the nation's healthiest community by 2020. To learn more, call 603-354-5400 or visit cheshiremed.org.

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