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News | Oct. 1, 2022

Think Pink at NMRTC Bremerton for Breast Cancer Awareness

By Douglas Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton

Think Pink at NMRTC Bremerton for Breast Cancer Awareness
By Douglas h Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer -- There was a noticeable different hue for many participants at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton’s Friday morning colors.
From rose to fuchsia to salmon, with October designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, staff members donned pink attire to raise awareness for the annual breast cancer campaign.
“Thank you for helping show awareness today. One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime,” said Capt. Patrick Fitzpatrick, NHB director and NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer.

For Yeoman Second Class Rachel Guevara, the opportunity to wear pink was a heartfelt decision.
“I wore pink in support of one of a close friend of my family, Denise, who passed away in 2020 after a long five-year battle with breast cancer,” related Guevara.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women, trailing only skin cancer.
The best way to detect – and treat – breast cancer is with a mammogram screening.
 “Our message to everyone is not wait for any symptoms to appear. Get screened because early detection saves lives,” said Marde Buchart radiologic and mammography technician, a staunch advocate of addressing breast cancer needs in a timely manner.

According to Buchart, there are really no tell-tale signs or symptoms of breast cancer, which is why annual screening is recommended. When the tumor is small, it is much easier to treat. The most common physical sign is a painless lump. Breast cancer can also spread to underarm lymph nodes causing a lump or swelling.
Other possible – albeit less common – indicators include breast pain and/or heaviness; persistent changes such as swelling, thickening, or redness of the skin. If anything is noticed or felt, timely evaluation by a physician is advised.
Buchart attests that if any type of breast cancer is diagnosed early and is followed by aggressive treatment before the cancer spreads, the five year survival rate for breast cancer is over 85 percent.
Early is on time for those who think pink.

“The primary purpose of this annual campaign is to increase awareness of this disease. Our radiologists here are all working aggressively every day to diagnose, keep on top of the best available treatments and work together to all those involved to try and eradicate any cancer,” remarked Buchart.
American Cancer Society guidelines call for early breast cancer detection for just that reason, recommending monthly breast self-examinations and periodic clinical breast examinations for women starting in their 20s and annual mammograms starting at age 40.  Breast cancer risk does vary by age, race, and ethnicity. Compiled ACS statistical evidence attests that breast cancer risk increases as a woman ages until the seventh decade.
The benefits of digital mammography are many. It allows the radiologist to review electronic images of the breast using special high-resolution monitors. Objects can be magnified for close ups of specific areas of interest, adjusted brightness, increased or decreased contrast and inverted the black and white values while reviewing the images in order to thoroughly evaluate and focus on any specific area of concern, such as small calcifications, masses and other subtle signs.  Being able to manipulate images is one of the major benefits of digital technology because it makes it easier to detect breast cancers.  As soon as the image is taken it can be transmitted internally in real time to be reviewed by the radiologist.

There is also enhanced connectivity capabilities with DoD’s electronic health record MHS GENESIS, which allows for timely support to other military treatment facilities with the new system.
Breast Cancers:
primarily in women 50 years and older, but can also affect younger women. Approximately 9 percent of new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are in women under age 45
Most likely hereditary in younger women
Most likely found in later stage,
Most likely more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Breast Cancer Symptoms:
New lump in the breast or underarm
change in size or shape of breast
partial swelling/thickening of breast
irritation or dimpling of breast skin
redness or flaky skin around the area
nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
pain in breast area
Risk Factors
What can’t be changed:
getting older
family history
reproductive history, such as menstrual period before age 12/menopause after age 55

What can be changed:
physical activity
taking hormones
reproductive history, such as pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, no full-term pregnancy
Reducing Breast Cancer Risk
keep a healthy weight
exercise on a regular basis
limit or do not consume alcohol
breastfeed your children, if possible
if taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, ask doctor on risks

Men aren’t immune either, although cases in men are less common. Similar to women, male breast cancer risk increases with age, and there are also risk factors such as radiation exposure, family history of breast cancer and obesity.
Don't forget to keep your family's information up-to-date in DEERS.