Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness Katherine "Katie" Sibler Nurse Practitioner of the Vanderbilt Breast Center at 100 Oaks talks about Breast Cancer Detection and Prevention.

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Stephanie Townsend: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Stephanie Townsend with Vanderbilt Occupational Health. We are here today to talk with Katherine Sibler, nurse practitioner at the Breast Center at One Hundred Oaks on the subject of breast cancer awareness. What is breast cancer? Katherine Sibler: Breast cancer occurs when cells dividing grow without their normal control. Stephanie Townsend: What are the signs of breast cancer? Katherine Sibler: The warning signs of breast cancer are not the same for all women. The most common signs are change in the look or feel of the breast, a change in the look or feel of the nipple, and nipple discharge. In many cases, there may not be any signs, which is why it is important to undergo your regular mammogram. Stephanie Townsend: Can anyone request a screening for breast cancer or do you need to meet certain criteria to have the screening? Katherine Sibler: You do not need an order for screening mammogram. However, if you are under 40 years of age, it may not be paid for by insurance. Also, breast screening itself aims to find breast cancers early. So, if you are worried about new breast symptoms, you should not wait to be screened but see your physician to discuss diagnostic testing for further evaluation. Stephanie Townsend: What are the types of screening, and if you meet criteria for a screening, how often should you have one? Katherine Sibler: The primary screening for women is a mammogram. Supplemental screening includes ultrasounds, tomosynthesis, and or 3D mammograms and breast MRIs. The supplemental screenings can be considered if you have dense breast tissue or if you have an increased risk of developing a breast cancer such as a family history or rather previous history of radiation to the chest wall such as a history of Hodgkin lymphoma. Some of the supplemental screenings, however, may not be covered by insurance. So, it is something that you would need to talk to your physician about further. With regard to how often you need to have your screening imaging done, the NCCN guidelines which stands for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends mammograms every year starting at the age of 40 for as long as a woman is in good health. There are also additional screening recommendations provided by the US Preventative Task Force as well as the American Cancer Society, but I typically abide by the NCCN guidelines because their mission in general is to save the most lives from cancer. Stephanie Townsend: How can you limit your risks for breast cancer? Katherine Sibler: Common sense things that we all know. Regular exercise, typically I say about 3 hours of week of good heart pumping exercise, but I am happy with anything in general, eating heathy, lots of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and less of the red meats. There is also research looking at the Mediterranean type diets and reduced occurrences of breast cancer. Control your weight. Being overweight or obese does increase the risks of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause. Obviously, do not smoke, and then limit alcohol intake. Increased alcohol intake does increase the risks of breast cancer, but alcohol does also include wine and beer which I have lots of patients try to argue with me about. Stephanie Townsend: Do you have any additional tips or websites that our listeners can go to for more information? Katherine Sibler: The American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen have excellent information on breast cancer, and obviously if a patient is interested in talking to someone here at the Breast Center, we are more than happy to see patients. Stephanie Townsend: Thank you. Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at -- end of recording (04:08) --