February 27, 2006 – Posted at 3:29 p.m. CST
PARAGOULD, AR -- There are more than 2 million Americans living with breast cancer today and it ranks as the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American women.
44-year-old rocker Sheryl Crow recently announced on her website that she is postponing her North American concert tour because she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Crow underwent surgery last week and will receive radiation treatment. She joins the more than 200,000 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.
Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan also announced Monday that she has breast cancer. She says the cancer is at an early stage, and doctors expect her to make a full recovery. Carnahan says she plans to continue working, as much as she can, while she undergoes treatment.
"Throughout the years, I've noticed that patients are becoming younger and younger," said Arkansas Methodist Medical Center mammographer Carrie Rowland, who has treated women as young as 26.
One in seven women are diagnosed with breast cancer and the most common sign is a new lump or mass. According to the American Cancer Society, other signs of breast cancer include the following:
- a swelling of part of the breast
- skin irritation or dimpling nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- a lump in the underarm area
"It's so important, I believe as a mammographer, to be sure that you have a mammogram every year after 40. Also to do your breast self exam every month and go see your doctor every year," said Rowland.
Rowland believes that if there is a silver lining to Crow's ordeal, it's creating awareness.
"I think it's important for women in this area to not be afraid of a mammogram, it's only going to last a few seconds and it's not as uncomfortable as what they thought it would be," said Rowland.
Finding breast cancer early can make a big difference in treatment options and it's never too early to discuss getting a mammogram with your doctor.
Arkansas Methodist Medical Center does participate in the Arkansas Breast Care program...those who qualify can get a free mammogram. For more information call 1-877-640-CARE. The Breast Care hotline is answered Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.