ada-patricia-romilly_web.jpgAn estimated 261,000 women in the United States and nearly 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. It is the second most common form of cancer in women, after skin cancer. Last year, nearly 42,000 women were expected to die from the disease. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s the perfect opportunity for women – and men – to take the time to learn about the importance of early detection in the fight against breast cancer.

Jackson Health System offers two full-service breast centers, the Taylor Breast Health Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Comprehensive Breast Center at Jackson South Community Hospital. Both facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to run tests including digital mammograms and breast ultrasounds.

Patients can have all their procedures performed in one day, under one roof, without the need for follow-up appointments. In most cases, results of mammograms and other tests are discussed with patients immediately. A nurse navigator is also assigned to help patients who have been diagnosed with the disease by arranging appointments with an oncologist and, if necessary, a surgeon.

What are the screening guidelines?

Women should begin performing breast self-exams in the 20s. Your healthcare provider can teach you the techniques. Starting at age 40, all women should have a screening mammogram once a year.  Patients with a strong family history of breast cancer should consult with their family physicians as to the appropriate age to begin annual mammograms.

What should I do if I find a lump?

Don’t panic. Most lumps are not breast cancer. Still, for peace of mind, you should make an appointment with a physician for a check-up.

Though breasts can often be lumpy, certain lumps feel like knots. These types of lumps are more cause for concern. They feel thicker, harder and different from the rest of the breast.

Other warning signs are swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast, change in its size or shape, an itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple, nipple discharge that starts suddenly and new pain that is concentrated in one spot and does not go away.

What are the screening tools?

Screening mammograms (an x-ray of the breast) are done on women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. For women who have detected a lump or have other signs of possible breast cancer, diagnostic mammograms are used. These take longer because they require more x-rays of additional angles of the breast.

If the mammogram detects an abnormality, then an ultrasound can be done, followed by a biopsy, if necessary.

The breast centers at Jackson Memorial and Jackson South are equipped to provide all these services for patients in one day, without the need to make additional follow-up appointments.

Ada Patricia Romilly, M.D., is a radiologist and medical director of breast imaging at the Taylor Breast Health Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

For more information on the Taylor Breast Health Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, 1611 NW 12th Ave., Miami, and the services offered, visit or call 305-585-7410 to make an appointment.

The Comprehensive Breast Center at Jackson South Community Hospital is located at 9380 SW 150th St., Suite 250. For more information, visit or call 305-256-5245.

Photo: Ada Patricia Romilly