With breast cancer the most common cancer among women and also the second deadliest, one local doctor is using Breast Cancer Awareness Month to encourage women to get screened.
Montefiore medical oncologist, Dr. Jesus Anampa spoke with the Bronx Times about the hospital’s latest breast cancer research, an upcoming screening event and how often women should get screened. According to Anampa, breast cancer was once only thought of something that affected older women.
“The main message is for people to get early detection,” he said. “It’s a disease that can affect a lot of people.”
As of January 2021, there are more than 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have been in treatment. Anampa said that women between the ages of 25 and 40 should have an annual clinical breast examination. Additionally, women 40 and older should have an annual mammogram.
He said women who are uninsured, lack knowledge about breast cancer or English is not their first language, often do not get screened enough.
“My message is that as soon as people turn age 40 they must find their primary care doctor and get screened,” he said.
Breast cancer is also more prevalent among Black women than any other racial or ethnic group; Black women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate. Evidence also suggests that Black women have a substantially higher risk of experiencing chemotherapy-induced neuropathy — nerve damage typically resulting in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain in the affected area. Montefiore and Einstein hospitals are studying why this is the case, including looking at genotypes of Black women to predict who is more likely to suffer from this side effect.
Because of this side effect, Montefiore has seen women reducing chemotherapy doses, which may also contribute to why Black women may have higher breast cancer recurrence rates.
Currently, Montefiore is participating in a yearlong national breast cancer study, TMIST, where the hospital is using 3D imaging for breast exams to determine if this a better technique than 2D.
“The biggest question is can this image help in detecting breast cancer?” Anampa said. “This is very exciting because this is the first time, we’re trying to test something in such a large study.”
On Oct. 9, the hospital is a hosting a free breast cancer screening event at 1695 Eastchester Road, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will feature breast exams and pap smears for women 18 and older, mammograms for women 40 and older, and women’s health education and information. Co-pays apply only to those with insurance and free exams will be provided for all uninsured underinsured and undocumented women.
Registration is required. To register, call 718-405-8076, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This is the kind of event we need to have because some people don’t have insurance,” Anampa said.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.