Local breast cancer survivors advocate for preventive care


KANSAS CITY, Mo – Doctors highlight importance of preventive mammograms in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The survival rate for cancer is in the 90th percentile for patients who catch the disease early and have an otherwise healthy medical history.

“We screen women, traditionally, on an annual basis starting around age 40,” said Dr. Elizabeth Butler. “If you’re having symptoms – if you’ve got any lumps, lumps, nipple discharge, abnormal redness, itching, anything like that, it should make you want to call your OBGYN or primary care. Or sometimes you can just call us here at the breast center to get some imaging.

Butler specializes in breast surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital. She said lack of insurance or financial burdens can be barriers for patients, but preventive screenings can save lives. Doctors are also concerned that concerns about being in hospital during a pandemic will prevent patients from entering.

“It’s actually one of the safest places because we have high vaccination rates and we take every precaution,” Butler said. “Honestly, I’m worried about some of my patients, where we’ll be in two or three years if they miss these screenings. “

Katy Guzman, one of Butler’s breast cancer patients, said early detection saved her life. She was diagnosed in June 2019 and no longer had cancer by September of the same year.

“I would rather have a mammogram that lasts one minute every month of my life than have that feeling again when they call you and say, ‘You have cancer.’ I never want that feeling again, ”Guzman said.

After his diagnosis, Guzman changed his life by quitting smoking, drinking and losing 120 pounds.

“I want to see my children grow up. I was not ready to die, ”Guzman said. “‘Oh, you have autoimmune disease’, ‘Oh, you have cancer. ” What else do you need? What else do you need to change your life? “

In the darkest hour of her life, it was her silver lining.

“Cancer has given me a whole new life. It gave me a whole new perspective, ”Guzman said. “Because I don’t know if I would have ever been together. “

According to St. Luke’s Hospital, one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2021, it is the most common type of cancer in the world.

Fortunately with preventative measures, Guzman’s success is a possibility for many others.

Butler said that while you shouldn’t postpone an annual mammogram, wait a few weeks after being vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine can cause swelling of the lymph nodes, which is a similar symptom in cancer patients. This can lead to unnecessary problems until doctors can guarantee a clean MRI.

“You will probably have to wait at least a few weeks. Some of the current literature, and the ways we practice now, say maybe up to about six weeks from the end of your second dose, before your boosters or something like that, ”Butler said.

If patients have been recently vaccinated, they may alert the doctor before starting mammography screening. To avoid any concerns, patients can also be vaccinated after a mammogram.

For more information and resources on mammograms at St. Luke’s Hospital, you can visit their website.

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