An average of 6,575 new invasive breast cancer cases are diagnosed among Georgia women every year, according to the Georgia Cancer Data Report. That’s greater than the population of 13 of Georgia’s smaller counties. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is focused on cutting those numbers.
About 14 percent of all women in Georgia who receive a breast cancer diagnosis die every year. So what can be done to improve those odds. Early diagnosis is key. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the chances of survival.
According to the most recent Cancer Data Report from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Athens-Clarke County has room to improve in when it comes to catching breast cancer in its early stage.
Among its other services, Piedmont Athens Regional Breast Health Center has a mobile mammography clinic. The unit is equipped with technology that allows doctors to examine the breast tissue one layer at a time, building what is essentially a three-dimensional mammogram.
Ultimately, this improves the chances of early detection, which could be the difference between life and death The hospital hopes the mobile clinic will ease the process for women who need a mammogram.
A mammogram caught Kathy McCuiston’s breast cancer in 2015 at East Side Medical Center in Snellville. “Thankfully, it was caught very early on, stage one,” she said. “No chemotherapy was necessary and I have been cancer free since May of 2016.”
McCuiston said her biggest supporters through the process were her two daughters and her neighborhood family. And in addition to finding a good team of doctors, McCuiston highlights the importance of staying mentally and physically fit.
“Being healthy is the key to having any type of successful surgery and hopefully avoiding complications, which can lengthen your recovery time,” said McCuiston.
Since 1990, breast cancer mortality rates in Georgia have declined at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent. This decrease is due in part to earlier detection through mammography and improved treatment.
You can contact your local health center if you are due for a mammogram.