SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – According to the Utah Department of Health, breast cancer is the most commonly-occurring cancer in the U.S. and the leading cause of female cancer-related deaths in Utah.
Clinical trials and observational studies found that routine screening with mammography can reduce breast cancer mortality by about 20 percent for women of average risk. The State of Utah sees higher incidence counts with age. In 2017, 330 women under the age of 50 were diagnosed with breast cancer, while 1,252 women over the age of 50 were diagnosed.
Medical experts say if someone finds a lump — first off, don’t worry or panic. They say most lumps are not breast cancer, but something less serious that can be benign, such as fibrocystic breast disease. Some lumps go away on their own, according to doctors. In younger women, lumps are often related to menstrual periods and go away by the end of the cycle. But they advise if someone finds a lump or any change in their breast or underarm, to see their health care provider to make sure it’s not breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women between the ages of 40 to 54 should get a mammography every year. For women over the age of 55 who are in good health, mammograms are recommended every two years. However, there is no wrong time to get screened or examined, since circumstances can also range with risk factors and age. Risk factors including the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 inherited gene mutation, a personal history of invasive breast cancer, exposure to ionizing radiation, hormonal influence, and more.
Black Physicians of Utah report that Black women have the highest breast cancer mortality of any U.S. racial or ethnic group. For comparison, Black women have a mortality rate for breast cancer that is 42 percent higher than White women. Black women are more likely to be diagnosed at advanced cancer stages, such as when there are larger tumors or when the cancer has spread to a lymph node. Some of the barriers and challenges for this ethnic group are attributed to lack of health insurance, lack of access to care, worries about cost, and culture/language barriers.
Shehnoor Grewal, who is a breast cancer survivor, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. Grewal was diagnosed a few months ago at just age 30 with Stage IV/metastatic breast cancer. She shared what led up to her breast cancer diagnosis, what prompted her to go get tested, what made her suspect that something was wrong, how her treatment journey has been, and what she’s learned and wants the public to know about breast cancer.
Dr. Richard Ferguson, president of Black Physicians of Utah and Dr. Gita Suneja, associate professor of radiation oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah discussed when someone should get screened for breast cancer, what they should do if they find a lump, who’s at higher risk for breast cancer, what the risk factors are, where breast cancer ranks when it comes to the deadliest cancers in the world, how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted prevention efforts, why Black women have the highest mortality rate in the U.S. for this disease, what the barriers are for screening and prevention in the Black community, and why mammogram screening is so important.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Grewal, Dr. Ferguson, and Dr. Suneja, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.