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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

Posted by Dan Narsete on


“I laughed more in the hospital than I ever have in my life, making fun of all the weird things that were happening to me.” -Christina Applegate


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so there is no better time to talk about breast cancer. Our intention is not to scare you, but rather to educate and empower you so that you may make the best decisions regarding your health and wellbeing. According to, an estimated 40,610 women will die from breast cancer this year alone. That is one death every 15 minutes! Seeing figures like that can be overwhelming, but the good news is you can do something about it.

What you need to know

To gain more understanding about breast cancer, we interviewed board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matt Baker, MD, PhD who specializes in breast reconstruction.

Q: How can you tell if you may have breast cancer?
Dr. Baker: “Women should do a self-exam every week or at least once a month. Generally, if you see or feel a change, nodule, firm spot, or something weird on either of your breasts have it checked out! Early detection is key. If you do feel something, most cases are benign, but always have a medical professional check it out.”
Q: What causes breast cancer?
Dr. Baker: “There are many theories as to the underlying cause but we think hormone exposure may be a contributing factor in the development of breast cancer”
Q: What are some of the risk factors involved with breast cancer?
Dr. Baker: “People that have a family history generally have an increased risk associated with breast cancer. The good news is that you can get genetic testing to determine your risk factor. It is very easy to do and I would highly recommend it.”
Q: What age groups are affected?
Dr. Baker: “It used to be that women in their 60’s and 70’s were most affected. In the last decade, we have seen an increase in younger women in their late 20’s and 30’s.”
Q: If someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, what happens?
Dr. Baker: “The good news is medicine is getting better and in comparison, to years past, less and less people are dying from this. There are two main surgical procedures. The first is a partial mastectomy commonly called a “lumpectomy,” where part of the breast tissue is removed, along with lymph node removal. The other (option) is total mastectomy. Bilateral is only done as a prophylactic procedure in high- risk patients. This procedure has really gotten better and the reoccurrence rate drops to 1-5%. Another point to consider is surgeons have become really good at breast reconstruction.”
Q: What is done for a breast reconstruction?
Dr. Baker: “There are two basic ways to reconstruct a breast. The most popular is implant based where depending on the situation a tissue expander is inserted for a period. Once the tissue has expanded an implant is inserted. In many situations, women can even keep their own nipple. The second is called an autologous reconstruction where we use a skin flap from another part of the body to reconstruct the breast itself.”

 More good news

According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation ,“breast cancer mortality rates have dropped 38% from 1989 to 2014.” This is very encouraging news! It sounds like this can be attributed (at least in part) to genetic screening and early detection that Dr. Baker was talking about during our interview. Make sure you do a self-breast exam at least once a month and call your doctor immediately if you notice something irregular. It could save your life.
If you want to learn more about breast cancer, check out these sites for the most up-to-date information:

 Susan G. Komen Foundation

American Cancer Society

National Breast Cancer Foundation


To beating breast cancer,


Team Reflect

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