Surgeon, cancer survivor encourages early detection

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The first ever Northeast Arkansas Race for the Cure takes place Saturday. As we gear up to run and walk for those who have fought and won, fought and lost, or are still battling breast cancer, we remember so many of those stories started with a mammogram.

When it comes to early detection, mammograms are key.

"Mammograms allow us to detect breast cancers or pre-cancerous lesions before they're even palpable, so before the patient realizes there's a problem with their breast," Dr. Jennifer DiCocco said.

The earlier it's detected, the better.

"The better the outcome, the better the survival rates, the less likely a recurrence will happen," Dr. DiCocco said.

Mammograms are recommended annually for women 40 and older. That doesn't mean younger populations aren't affected.

Dr. DiCocco is a surgeon at St. Bernards and speaks from experience.

"When I was 26 years old, I found a mass in my own breast," she told Region 8 News.

A mammogram showed she had Stage 1 breast cancer.

She's now cancer-free and has been in remission for nearly a decade.

But if she hadn't noticed something was wrong and got a follow-up mammogram, it could be a different story.

That's why she tells everyone to check yourself and then get annual checkups.

She also wants women to know that just because it doesn't run in your family, that doesn't mean you aren't at risk.

"Most women that are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer, and so a lot of women come in and they say I didn't think I needed a mammogram because no one in my family has breast cancer," Dr. DiCocco said. "That's actually the most common. Nobody else has breast cancer and that's the person who's diagnosed."

Dr. DiCocco said most women say they have no idea, if they found something abnormal, what it is.

She said that's okay. Finding out what it is, is their job. However, she said it's your job to watch for changes in your body and head to the doctor if you notice something different.

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