SAN ANGELO, Texas (Concho Valley Homepage) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Shannon Medical explains that early detection and screening can be a lifesaver.

Dr. Michelle Snuggs says breast cancer mammograms should start at age 40. She says the rate of being cured is higher the sooner cancer is detected and doing self-screenings is also important.

“For women that are in the age group of needing annual mammograms, it’s very important to do self-breast exams, and they recommend doing it at least once a month,” Snuggs said. “One thing that I’ve learned in medical school, I was working with a surgeon, and he said to do it daily [when] we’re in the shower. If you do it daily, you can get the lay of the land so you know if there’s any changes.”

Snuggs says about 1-in-8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the Concho Valley.
She also says advanced technology is helpful for treatment.

“Particularly in the screening modalities we have, our equipment has advanced significantly over the past two or three decades,” Snuggs said. “Currently we’re doing instead of a 2D mammogram, we have 3D technology, which actually kind of flips through the breast tissue so you can see things much smaller than we used to. We’ve got breast ultrasound and we’ve got MRI, so there’s so many ways to detect these small cancers.”

Things to check for during self-exams include any changes like a lump, redness or skin dimpling. Snuggs says genetics aren’t the only contributing factor for breast cancer.

“For instance, if you started your period very early, if you’re late menopause or if you never breastfed kids,” Snuggs said. “There’s a lot of different things that put you at an increased risk. One of the big things that we’ve learned in the last few years is breast density. The denser your breast, the more functioning tissue you have in your breast and the higher the likelihood of getting breast cancer.”

Snuggs says that a common myth for mammograms is that they are painful. She says while they can be uncomfortable, they shouldn’t cause a lot of pain.

Saturday morning, Oct. 7, is Shannon Medical Center’s 16th annual Pink Ribbon Run, with over a thousand people already signed up to participate.