By Dr. Evan Tummel

I specialize in breast surgery at Brandon Regional Hospital, where treating the effects of this devastating disease is a year-round job. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of testing and early detection.

When breast cancer is found in the beginning stages, meaning it is more localized in nature, the five-year survival rate is over 95 percent. That number can drop to less than 40 percent, however, when discovered in the distant or later stages.

And while improvements in treatment and early detection have caused mortality rates to fall significantly over the past 25 years, the fact remains that one in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in life.

So, what’s the best way to stay on guard? Start by talking to your doctor to determine which screening procedure is right for you.

The general consensus is that monthly personal exams and annual medical checkups are vital for all women 20 and over. At 40, a yearly mammogram is also recommended. Women with elevated risk factors such as family history or increased breast density may also want to discuss with their doctor whole breast ultrasound or MRI in addition to mammograms.

In the event that an abnormality is found, doctors will often perform a needle or surgical biopsy for further analysis. If cancerous, the prognosis and treatment depends on the cancer’s location, size and stage with the goal of eliminating cancer cells as well as prevention of additional tumors.

In my line of work, I know how tough it is for people to confront the harsh realities of cancer. The good news is that a local team of highly trained medical professionals is available right here in Brandon to help patients, and their loved ones each step of the way.

Just across the street from Brandon Regional, at 427 S. Parsons Ave., we have a specialized facility (Breast Care at Total Imaging-Parsons) where compassionate doctors and nurses provide the best experience possible.

When it comes to breast cancer, I’m encouraged that America continues to raise its collective awareness in high-profile ways. But the real test comes on the individual level. In the spirit of all those pink ribbons, my hope is that each woman will always take time to do what’s in the best interest of her own health.

Dr. Evan Tummel is a fellowship trained breast specialist and board-certified surgeon with Brandon Regional Hospital. He specializes in the treatment of breast disease including breast cancer. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 315-2080.