Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. That statistic alone can make having a mammogram uncomfortable and scary — but it doesn’t have to be. At the Erlanger Center for Breast Health, our breast cancer navigators are here to help.
At the first sign of an abnormal mammogram — through biopsy, surgery, and beyond — breast cancer navigators are the tireless supporters of our patients. Guiding them through each step of the process, they provide education on all available treatment options.
As a Breast Health Navigator, Katie Viola, RN, BSN, emphasizes the importance of providing patients with someone to join them on their journey even as doctors and treatments change.
“My true role as a navigator is to be your advocate, a companion, and a point-of-contact.”
Janet Kramer-Mai is an Oncology Certified Nurse and Certified Breast Navigator, and this month marks her 17th year as a breast cancer survivor. Not only is she armed with the medical knowledge of the stages and treatments of breast cancer, Janet is able to lend her personal experience to her patients as she helps them navigate their individual journeys.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of diligent breast health,” says Janet. Her guidelines for maintaining breast health include:
- Have an annual breast exam – a clinical exam by a physician, NP, PA, or someone specifically trained to perform a clinical breast exam.
- Perform a monthly self-exam – many women identify issues by maintaining regular breast self-awareness.
- Schedule an annual mammogram – especially for anyone at a higher risk for breast cancer.
“The goal of annual screening mammography is to find a breast cancer long before a woman could feel it or discover it on a breast self-exam. Each piece of the recommended breast health guidelines serves an important purpose, and if there are any concerns, they should be discussed with a physician.”
You may have an increased chance of developing breast cancer if you:
- Are female
- Have a family history
- Are overweight
- Drink alcohol in excess
And by age 55, your chances may increase further.
If you have any of the above risk factors, or are at least age 35, it’s time to have a mammogram. To schedule an appointment with an OB-GYN or breast cancer navigator, please call 423-778-MAMO (6266).