Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors

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Jan 23, 2017, 9:39 PM | Updated: Jan 25, 2017, 12:34 pm


Despite ongoing efforts to find a cure, it is estimated over 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never welcome news. Fortunately, even with the number of breast cancer patients on the rise, the number of survivors are also rising, giving hope to women everywhere.

In fact, according to cancer.org, as of Jan 1, 2016, there were an estimated 3,560,570 female breast cancer survivors in the U.S., and that number is expected to rise to 4,571,210 by 2026.

Here are some reasons the future of a breast cancer diagnosis is not as bleak as it once was in the past:

A focus on improving health

Research shows it isn’t just about getting proper medical treatment to battle the disease. Leading a healthy lifestyle by including a low fat, high fiber diet is a big part of the equation.

Dr. Lora Hebert, a breast cancer surgeon at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center agrees.

“Maintaining proper weight, eating healthy and exercising are extremely important in not only the prevention of cancer but also the recurrence of cancer,” she said in an interview.

In another recent article, Lee Renda, a registered dietician notes, “A dietician plays an integral part in the whole comprehensive center.” Eating nutrient rich foods like nuts, beans, whole grain cereals, colorful fruits and vegetables will help lessen the side effects of cancer while helping to heal faster and feel better.

Dignity Breast Cancer Stat

Getting regular mammograms

Early detection by way of a mammogram is one of the key factors in the breast cancer survival rate. In fact, 95 percent of breast cancer patients whose cancer is caught in an early stage survive beyond five years, according to new research.

Dr. Hebert emphasizes the need for regular mammograms to help in early detection.

“Mammograms are extremely important in all age groups of women, specifically, however, in women over 50,” she said. “It’s equally as important that women seek out a breast specialists to evaluate their abnormal mammogram or a lump in the breast.”

Integrated treatments

In recent years, cancer research has taken a more integrated approach to treatment, bringing in a range of medical specialists to more fully understand breast cancer patients.

Dr. Hebert believes an integrated treatment plan is a key factor in the high survival rate of breast cancer patients.

“We definitely know that outcomes for patients treated at an integrated center where there are all different types of specialists are better — meaning that those patients have a better rate of survival,” Dr. Hebert said.

The University of Arizona of Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center uses a range of specialists including geneticists, specialized surgeons, specialized medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists to treat its breast cancer patients.

While receiving a cancer diagnosis can still shake your world, finding integrated healthcare from medical professionals who specialize in cancer treatment will give you the best chance to find yourself among the 4 million women who proudly call themselves survivors.

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Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors