In the month of October, we are flooded by a sea of pink and various events to highlight breast cancer awareness. What about the other eleven months of the year? For those diagnosed with breast cancer and their friends and family, they are reminded of the disease all year long. While breast cancer can impact both women and men, young and old, the highest incidence of the disease is in women in their 70s. This was true for Rose Kaven, a retired Tahquamenon Area Schools educator, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at seventy-four years old. An annual screening mammogram detected the lump that led to swift action by HNJH and her primary care provider.
While no one in Kaven’s family had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew the importance of a screening mammogram. It had been identified that Rose had very fibrous breasts which can make it difficult to determine the presence of new lumps with a self-exam. This makes a screening mammogram even more important. In April of this year, Kaven had come in for her screening mammogram just as she had every year before. “The staff is very knowledgeable. Everyone makes you feel very comfortable,” shared Rose.
This time, there was a small lump detected and a follow-up ultrasound was necessary. She received the results of the ultrasound the same day determining it, in fact, was a tumor. The next step would be to biopsy the tumor and determine whether it was cancerous. “I couldn’t believe how quickly it was between my mammogram and biopsy. The communication between Helen Newberry Joy Hospital’s Radiology Department and my primary care provider, that it was cancer, allowed us to act quickly,” comments Kraven.
A lumpectomy was scheduled a week later to remove the tumor. Once completely removed, Rose met with an oncologist and radiologist who determined chemotherapy and radiation were not necessary. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that women aged 70 or older with small, estrogen-sensitive tumors may not require radiation following a lumpectomy and can do well without this treatment.
Detecting the breast cancer tumor early was key in Kaven’s recovery. Now, she has a mammogram every six months to ensure no other tumors develop. Her advice to women about mammograms, “Get it no matter what. You’re not too young or too old to get breast cancer because it doesn’t discriminate.”
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer requiring chemotherapy treatment, you can contact the Helen Newberry Joy Hospital’s Chemo and Infusion Therapy Department. Our experienced Registered Nurses, certified by the Oncology Nursing Society, are specially trained to provide a wide variety of intravenous infusion therapies on an outpatient basis. Call 906.293.9283 for more information.