Breast oncologist breaks down myths, prevention and tell-tale signs

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"Like I mentioned before, self-awareness is very important."

ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Breast oncologist, Mary Grace Bridges, says staying one step ahead is key, especially for a disease where early-detection is fighting half the battle.

“Like I mentioned before, self-awareness is very important,” explained Bridges, “If a woman ignores like a breast lump, doesn’t get their annual screening mammograms, it can become metastatic and spread to the rest of the body. So that’s the danger, not detecting it early.”

With innovative treatments and early screening, many women are now beating the odds. But this means, keeping up with annual mammograms for women over 40. If you have family members who were diagnosed with the disease before the age of 50, you should start getting tested earlier.

“There’s a lot of resources out there for women who think they can’t afford it,” said Bridges. “It doesn’t take very long. I’d say at the most about 30 minutes?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 240,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Of them, about 40,000 will die from the disease.

“Being overweight, smoking, alcohol any exposure to hormones — that can increase a woman’s risk. Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol and not smoking — those are really the things that can, have been proven to, decrease those risks.”

Bridges advises all women and men to be familiar with the appearance of their breasts and to monitor any changes.

“Be aware if there’s any changes to the skin, or appearance of the nipples, or if they start having any abnormal discharge.”

Bridges says most insurances cover the cost of mammograms, but many hospitals and clinics also offer discounts during the month of October. Whatever your reasoning may be to forgo a screening, Bridges says the benefit of getting one will always outweigh the risks.

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