Don’t Put Off A Mammogram : A Breast Cancer Story


At just 32 years old, local mom Marianne Diaz was doing a routine breast self-exam, when she found a lump. She had a mammogram and biopsy done, and was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in August 2016. “A diagnosis like this turns everything around . . . I did not know how to help myself.” Marianne was overwhelmed, and very young to have such a serious diagnosis. Thankfully, she found askSARAH, and was referred to a nurse navigator (Stacey Gates) at North Suburban Medical Center, who guided her through her journey.

A Mammogram Could Save Your Life

If you, your mom, your sister, or a close friend are among the nearly 260,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year, the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE’s family of hospitals and Susan G. Komen Colorado are here to help. Keep reading to learn more about your risk of getting breast cancer, how to spot symptoms, and what to do if you or a relative receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

The Role of Genetics

Because breast cancer is genetic in 10% of patients, genetic counseling can help identify and manage risk. Genetic counseling starts with an in-depth family history, so be prepared to talk about cancer in both sides of your family. Based on your genetic history, your counselor will determine the likelihood of hereditary cancer in your family and help you determine if genetic testing is right for you.

The Breast Self-Exam and Mammograms

Whether you decide to pursue genetic testing or not, the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute recommends yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40—even if you don’t have a family history. If you are considered at a high risk for developing breast cancer, you and your physician will decide how often you should get screened. Additionally, women over the age of 20 should conduct regular breast self-exams to help identify breast cancer in its early stages.

Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Because breast cancer symptoms may remain silent, getting a mammogram could save your life. Along with other diagnostic tests, there are symptoms you and your physician can look out for, including breast discomfort, lumps, or changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast. Contact your physician if you experience any of these symptoms.

Treatment Options

If you or a loved one receive a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s important to understand all your treatment options. From hormonal therapy to immunotherapies, treatment options for patients with breast cancer are advancing every day. A medical oncologist will help you understand what to expect, potential side effects, and advantages of each different option. For many patients, surgery may be required. Talk to your doctor about  surgical treatment options that promote breast conservation, nipple sparing and reconstruction.

Fighting Breast Cancer in Colorado

In Colorado, 3,840 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 570 will die from the disease. Susan G. Komen Colorado and HealthONE are committed to improving the lives of those facing breast cancer in our community. Saving lives starts with empowering women in the community, ensuring quality care, and helping fund crucial new research focused on finding a cure. Visit the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE for more information.

We are so thankful that our partners at the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE have shared this valuable information on breast cancer, mammograms, and askSARAH with us.


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