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Doctor: Lifestyle can play a role in the occurrence of breast cancer

Breast Cancer Screening
Posted at 2:57 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-18 22:30:28-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month one local oncologist is making breast cancer awareness his mission all year round.

The CDC says 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime but there are preventatives as well as guidance to prepare yourself if you are diagnosed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women have their first cancer screening at 45 but about 9% of new breast cancer cases are in women younger than 45. So it is important to stay on top of your own screenings and learn your family history.


Risk Factors for Breast Cancer at a Young Age

  • You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 or ovarian cancer at any age, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
  • You have changes in certain breast cancer genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2), or have close relatives with these changes, but have not been tested yourself.
  • You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
  • You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
  • You have had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
  • You have been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.

Dr. Ravi Patel with the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center says that lifestyle can also place a role in the incidence of cancer so he advises taking preventative measures into consideration.

“It's always good to eat more fruits, more veggies, exercise regularly. Doesn't mean you can't drink but don't drink heavy. Exercise regularly. Keep your weight down and also do your breast self-exams.”

Dr. Patel told 23ABC he recognizes that testing and treatment can be very expensive and a barrier, but the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center is aware of that and offers several free resources to help emotionally and financially.

“We want to make sure that people in our community get their cancer picked up earlier and in order to do that we’re trying to minimize the financial constraints which patients have,” said Patel.

Patel said he knows sometimes young people starting their career may not have the means or others may lack health insurance or their health insurance doesn’t pay for all services.

“If there’s insurance, we will bill the insurance if there is no insurance, we will do the mammogram for free,” said Patel.

Patel stressed this isn't just for the month of October.

“We want to do it all year round so that people have access to this,” said Patel.

Patel said that if you are over the age of 45 you are due for a mammogram, but age is not the only factor in needing a mammogram.

“If you are young and you have a family history of breast cancer or other siblings having breast or ovarian cancer it’s very critical that you do a breast exam on a regular basis,” said Patel.

Patel insisted that all women be vigilant in the breast examinations.

“You feel a lump you call us if you need a mammogram at that time,” said Patel. “We connect the patient with pharma companies where we can them the drugs for free”

For those who don't qualify for this program the center has alternatives

“Those group of people who don't meet the criteria to get free stuff can go to Kern County Cancer Fund for any funding they may need for their treatment either drugs testing or a variety of things,” said Patel.

Patel said the goal is not only to provide medical care but make sure patients have access to the healthcare.

“We’re all in the circle of life, right? And so, we’re all connected, and we all need to help each other to make a difference,” said Patel.