Avera Medical Minute: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 5:35 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In this Avera Medical Minute, Erik Thorstenson speaks with an oncology nurse about how early detection remains the cornerstone in fighting breast cancer.

Jessica Moriarty is a nurse practitioner at the Avera Cancer Institute in Marshall, Minnesota.

Q: How do you know if you are at risk for breast cancer?

Jessica: “Well, everybody is a little at-risk. One in eight women are going to develop breast cancer, but you increase your risk with any family history of breast cancer, as well as some nutrition, and how you have your body status. A lot of breast cancer is fed by estrogen, and if you are more overweight, you have more estrogen in your body so you are at a higher risk for breast cancer based on your body status too.”

Q: Are there ways you can help reduce your risk for breast cancer?

Jessica: “The most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer is actually diet and exercise. I hate to say it, but the most important thing is to have a healthy body weight. Having a good nutrition status would be the best way to reduce your risk.”

Q: We talk so much about it, but how important is breast screening?

Jessica: “Essential. Breast screening and doing your screening mammograms can catch breast cancer at a much earlier stage. Even this past year, I was able to experience that personally. I’ve worked in oncology for over five years now. This past winter, my mom was doing her screening mammogram and they found a small breast cancer on her screening mammogram. She was able to get that surgery and her treatment done right away. And so, she was able to avoid any chemotherapy because it was caught early. She was able to do a short course of radiation because it was caught early. All of these things are so vital to treating breast cancer because if you can catch it early, you have a much better outcome and a lot less steps you have to go through in order to get that outcome.”

For more information, visit Avera.org/medicalminute