Patty Tenofsky, MD, a breast cancer surgeon with Via Christi Clinic, spoke at the Via Christi Women’s Connection October luncheon today covering the topic of breast cancer. Even though I am blessed with having no family medical history of breast cancer, I was still very interested in her presentation. She began with a startling statistic–most women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history. I was immediately engaged. That could be me, my mom, or my sister.
Dr. Tenofsky shared the staggering statistic that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer and only 20-30% of those diagnosed have any family history. She also noted that there are 2.5 million strong women in the United States who have survived breast cancer.
Dr. Tenofksy emphasized to the 200 women attending the event the importance of both medical and self exams. I hadn’t realized that to maximize the effectiveness of a breast self exam it needs be done a week after your menstrual cycle and at the same time each month in order to be able to notice changes in your breast.
One of the most fascinating parts of Dr. Tenofsky’s presentation was the variety of options for treatment. I know that when I think of breast cancer, mastectomy first comes to mind. A variety of procedures can be done that conserve the breast or reconstruct it after surgery. Each woman’s treatment is tailored to her, her breast size and her desired outcome after the surgery. Breasts can be reconstructed with implants, fat from the stomach or even muscles from the back. Breast biopsies have also changed over the years from an invasive surgery to a needle with no need for anesthesia and only the tiniest little scar.
If you were unable to attend the luncheon today or even if you’d like to revisit her presentation please take a few minutes to go through Dr. Tenofsky’s slides. I guarantee you’ll learn a great deal. (FYI: there are pictures of breasts in the slideshow)