ELIZABETH HIGGINS Eagle Correspondent Published October 05, 2006 12:19 AM CDT
On Tuesday night, Walker Baptist Medical Center’s first Candlelight Cafe, featuring guest speaker Dr. Carol Adams, proved to be extremely successful in informing the audience on the effects, treatments and prevention of breast cancer.
The dinner was held in the hospital’s cafeteria, which was closed off to the public. The cafeteria was decorated elegantly with white tablecloths, candles and pink roses on each table. Each place setting had sheets of information about breast cancer. A dinner of steak, rosemary potatoes and green beans almondine was served before Adams began speaking.
Adams, who grew up in Dothan, joined Walker Baptist Medical Center as a general surgeon in July. Part of her expertise is in breast surgery and breast health. She felt her topic was appropriate since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She wants women to know the facts about breast cancer and the importance of conducting breast exams themselves or by their doctor.
“Early detection is key to survival,” Adams stressed to the audience throughout the lecture. “If you have any suspicious lumps, swelling, skin irritation, redness or discharge you should contact your doctor immediately,” Adams warned. “Don’t ever let a physician say ‘we’ll wait and see on this.’”
She also stressed the fact that if you are diagnosed or you feel there is something wrong that your doctor has not detected, you should seek a second opinion if you feel that is the next step you should take. “You can always get a second opinion. If that hurts your physician’s feelings, then they need to grow up. It’s your body,” Adams said.
Adams urged women to take control of their bodies and decisions that affect their bodies. “Take affirmative action on your own. That’s what is going to empower you. You’re going to go out there and talk to your physician, and you’re going to find out how to do a breast exam by yourself. You’re going to go for your yearly check up,” Adams said. “Take charge of your health.”
Another issue discussed is that men are also susceptible to breast cancer. This is an issue overlooked by many men because of embarrassment or just not knowing. “A lot of men out there think they can’t get breast cancer,” Adams said. “Over 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and a quarter of those men will die.”
Some factors that increase the risk of breast cancer were discussed. Some of these risk factors are things that cannot be helped, such as gender, age, genetic factors, family history, personal history of cancer and race. According to Adams, white women are more likely to have breast cancer, however black women tend to have a larger mortality rate. Drinking alcohol, diet, obesity and smoking cigarettes are some factors that can be changed to prevent the occurrence of breast cancer. Also, not having children or having children after age 30 can increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer.
“If you don’t have children early in life, what you’re going to do is expose your body to estrogen longer in your childbearing years, and that actually increases your risk of breast cancer,” Adams advised. “Women who have had children in their teens or early 20s have a lower risk of breast cancer,” Adams said.
She also cleared up some myths of what can cause breast cancer, such as anti-perspirants and under wire bras. “One of the more popular questions I hear is ‘won’t those silicon breast implants increase my chances of cancer?’ No, they don’t,” Adams said.
Adams spoke to the audience about new technology in cures and detection of breast cancer. First, she discussed some details about mammography and detecting lumps in the breast.
“Less than 10 percent [of lumps] are not seen on a mammogram, but you can feel them. If you feel something that your mammogram does not show you, you need to find out what that is, cause that’s still part of your early detection,” Adams said. Adams said that generally they start doing mammograms on women at age 40. But, she also advised women that are younger, around 38 or 39, what they should do if they are concerned. “Well, if you have a high risk of breast cancer in your family, then discuss that with your physician. If your breasts are able to be mammogramed easily, then, yeah, go ahead and do that earlier on and if not, then self breast exam,” Adams said.
She discussed stereotactic breast biopsy, which is a new technology that will be coming to Walker Baptist soon. “It is the newest way to do a less invasive biopsy,” Adams said.
With stereotactic breast biopsy, the procedure that used to be only done surgically can be done in ten minutes. They can insert a needle to collect the tissue to be examined instead of making an incision. It can be done with fine needle aspiration which uses a very thin needle to remove fluid or a sample of cells, core needle biopsy which uses a hollow needle to remove small samples of tissue or vacuum-assisted biopsy which uses a special probe to collect samples.
A treatment that Adams discussed was hormone therapy. Estrogen can aid in the growth of a tumor. Hormone therapy can decrease the amount of estrogen being sent to the tumor resulting in stunted growth of the tumor or just stopping the growth completely.
“Two out of three breast cancers are receptive to hormone treatment,” Adams stated. She also discussed chemotherapy as an effective, but harsh treatment. “Chemo affects the body more than people realize,” Adams said. She suggests that before someone starts chemotherapy, they should find out what kind of effects it has on the body. Adams ended her speech telling everyone how happy she was to participate in this event. “I just appreciate the chance to come out and talk to you guys,” Adams said. “The more you guys know about it, the more you can tell your friends and family.”
Renae McKinney, Director of Community Relations at Walker Baptist, hopes to make Candlelight Cafe a reoccurring event. “We plan to have these quarterly. It depends on how well the community responds,” McKinney announced to the audience. “We want feedback on topics you want to hear about.” If anyone has any suggestions on topics they would like to see done at the Candlelight Cafe, they can call McKinney at 205-387-4169.
It was announced afterwards that Walker Outpatient Services at Walker Baptist will have Mammo Monday every Monday in October. This will allow women to receive screening mammograms for only $55. For more information, call Walker Outpatient Services at 205-387-4750.
The information on the Carol Adams, M.D., P.C. web pages is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The information is not medical advice and should not be taken as medical advice, should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care. You should consult a qualified health care provider or schedule an appointment if you have a question about your particular medical condition or suspect you have a health condition or serious medical problem.