One of the most important things Dr. Sarada Deshpande, Women’s Health Medical Director at Jesse Brown VA, wants you to do this Breast Cancer Awareness Month is get screened for breast cancer if you are 45 years old or older.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, just behind lung cancer. Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In fact, 1/8 of U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. While breast cancer is a serious concern, it has a 99 percent survival rate if detected early.
One of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer is through a mammogram. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends women with an average risk should complete regular screenings starting at age 45. Women 45-54 should be screened annually, and women 55 and up should be screened biennially or have the opportunity to continue screening annually.
When screening for breast cancer, doctors use a screening mammogram to look for early signs because mammograms can detect breast cancer without warning signs or symptoms. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. During an exam the breast is placed between two plates. Two views are taken—one from the top and one from the side.
Women who are at an increased risk of breast cancer should receive a special screening through a breast MRI. Breast MRIs catch cancers that are harder to detect by mammogram.
At present, Jesse Brown VA patients receive mammography services through community care. Community care works with veterans to identify a preferred date, time and facility for a mammogram visit. Findings from these visits are received by community care, and they alert providers of any significant findings. Jesse Brown VA also has a mammography coordinator who reviews all breast imaging results, including biopsies.
Jesse Brown has recently been approved to initiate mammography and breast imaging services on-site. Once these services are available at Jesse Brown VA, veterans will no longer have to be referred externally. Jesse Brown’s mental health department and mammography coordinator are also working on developing a women-specific cancer group in the near future to support veterans with this diagnosis.
Wondering where to start in getting screened? Speaking to your primary care provider is the first step. VAs also have Designated Women’s Health Providers for women, and they may assist with resources as well.
The Jesse Brown Women’s Clinic phone number is (312) 569-6246. There is a Women Veteran Program Manager at every VA who can also assist with a linkage; at Jesse Brown VA that person is Asya Brodsky, and she can be reached at (312) 569-5933.
For more information, visit Jesse Brown VA Healthcare, call (312) 569-8387, or contact the Veterans Crisis line at 988 and press 1 to be connected to a representative. You are not alone. The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center is here to support you in all of your health care needs and will faithfully serve all who served our country.