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CLEVELAND — One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s just one reason it’s so incredibly important to stay on top of your health. But that in and of itself can be overwhelming, and many women don’t even know where or how to begin. That’s why it’s easier to break it down and take it step by step.
First and foremost, talk with your primary doctor or gynecologist about getting a risk assessment. They can direct you to a breast center where you can get the proper imaging and have a radiologist review previous imaging if necessary. That way, you can schedule a consultation to determine where your risk stands, and how likely you are to develop breast cancer in your lifetime. If you’re considered high-risk, you may be eligible for further testing that can detect the disease at its earliest stage. Keep in mind, that high-risk isn’t always linked to family history. That’s why it’s important for all women to have an assessment.
Remember, some risk factors you can’t change. We all get older, and some people inherit a gene mutation that makes them likely to get breast cancer no matter what. There are, however, some factors you can control, like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, getting regular exercise, regulating your alcohol intake, and eating a healthy diet.
Here are a list of locations at our local hospital systems where women can go for everything from routine screenings, consultations for the diagnosis, and management of breast disease.
CLEVELAND CLINIC LOCATIONS:
- Akron General
- Beachwood Family Health and Surgery Center
- Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
- Fairview Hospital
- Hillcrest Hospital
- Strongsville Family Health and Surgery Center
UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL LOCATIONS:
- UH Cleveland Medical Center
- UH Ahuja Medical Center
- UH Elyria Medical Center
- UH Geauga Medical Center
- UH Mentor Health Center
- UH Parma Medical Center
- UH Portage Medical Center
- UH St. John Medical Center
METROHEALTH MEDICAL CENTER LOCATIONS:
- Main Campus Medical Center
- Broadway Health Center
- Parma Medical Center
- West 150th Health and Surgery Center
- Cleveland Heights Medical Center
- Middleburg Heights November Family Health Center
- Beachwood Health Center
Some locations offer walk-in mammograms so patients can get their screenings when it works best for them, no appointment required. MetroHealth Medical Center also offers a mobile mammogram unit.
Women with dense breasts also may have a higher risk of breast cancer. Dense tissue makes it much more difficult for doctors to interpret a mammogram. In this case, you can have a conversation with your doctor about additional testing.
If you would like to get an MRI as an alternate form of testing and your insurance won’t cover it, many hospitals, like University Hospitals offers what’s called a “Fast MRI” that you pay for out of pocket. (The test at UH is $250). This is for someone who has dense breast tissue but is otherwise not at high risk for developing breast cancer. It does not replace an annual mammogram but can be helpful in detecting any suspicious spots.
Most breast cancer programs work with patients as they navigate the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of a diagnosis. There are also support services such as art and music therapy, wig boutiques, reiki, yoga, and support groups at no charge.
It’s also important to remember that most hospital systems provide access to hundreds of clinical trials that include all types of breast cancer. The trials offer patients important treatment options and access to the latest treatments and procedures resulting from cancer research.
Most importantly, remember you’re not alone and there is support available from many organizations.
Click here for a list of financial, emotional, and physical support systems in your area, courtesy the American Cancer Society.