Breast Cancer Awareness Month
NEED TO KNOW
Join health professionals and your friends on Ladies Night Out for an evening of great shopping and education from women’s health experts. The event is 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the hospital, 801 E. Williams Ave.
Dr. Lisa Rasmussen is passionate about her profession as a general surgeon and advocate for cancer awareness at Banner Churchill Community Hospital.
Since her arrival in Fallon in 2014, Rasmussen reaches out to her patients and others who seek assistance.
“I love what I do. I love educating people,” she said of her profession.
Rasmussen, along with other health professionals, will participate in Thursday’s Ladies Night Out, which features an evening of shopping and education from women’s health experts. The event is from 5-7 p.m. at the hospital.
Rasmussen will discuss the importance of breast health since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Attendees also can shop with local vendors for make-up, purses, jewelry and more.
“October is a good opportunity to be reminded that breast health is important,” Rasmussen said.
A graduate of the RFUHS/The Chicago Medical School, Rasmussen said it’s important for women to screen for any potential breast problems. Rasmussen said women do not need to travel to Reno or Carson City for a mammogram because they are offered at Fallon’s Banner Churchill.
“They have an option here,” she said. “Women can walk into scheduling and do it (referral) themselves.
“If a new imaging is required, women should go to their own doctors or have it done at Banner,” Rasmussen said.
Prevention is best medicine.
“There are three components to screening,” she said, the first being a self-examination.
Rasmussen said women can perform their own self-exam monthly by feeling and looking for unusual lumps and bumps, skin alterations such as rashes or dimpling or nipple changes that produce a different look in drainage or with the skin’s texture.
Rasmussen said over time, women develop a good sense of what is normal and abnormal. She likens it to an analogy of the kitchen. In a kitchen, she said a woman knows where hundreds of items are, and when something is removed or out of place, she knows something is missing. The same can be said for breast exams. After doing so many of the exams, for example, Rasmussen said a woman will have a hunch something is wrong.
Another examination involves her physician, who will check for any abnormalities, and a third method is for the woman to check for breast cancer through a mammogram, which she recommends every one to two years for women 40 and older.
“Women who follow a physician’s instructions tend do very well,” she added.
Rasmussen said early detection of breast cancer reduces the number of cases, but it also increases the survival rate. For cancer caught in Stage 1, she said the survival rate is 95 percent, but further down the ladder to Stage 4, the survival rate is less than 50 percent.
According to Rasmussen, doctors are seeing fewer Stage 4 cases, yet the Banner physician said many women are still not aware of what they are or were experiencing.
“Some are scared,” she said. “If the answer is cancer, it means a lot more with the treatments, intervention … it could be paralyzing. The consequences can impact a woman.”
Although most people associate breast cancer with women, Rasmussen said 1 percent of all breast cancer cases, though, involve men. She said men who come from a family who has had a breast cancer history or experienced BRCA mutation see increases in the risk.
“The signs for a man are the same as for a woman,” Rasmussen said, adding that procedures range from a mammogram or ultrasound to surgery.
For the small percentage of men who may incur breast cancer, Rasmussen said they avoid healthcare because they think it can’t happen to them or they are afraid of the possible consequences.
Another issue to consider, she said, is for the patient to receive emotional support from the spouse, partner, boyfriend or parent.
“That partner needs to keep in mind that a lot of time is needed for emotional support as the person (patient) is going through it (operation and recovery),” Rasmussen said.
The challenges affecting the partner may be as great as those affecting the patient. Rasmussen said it isn’t unusual for the man to reach out for support in taking care of his mate. In larger areas such as Reno, she said cancer support groups help others who need assistance or an encouraging word.
Breast cancer surgery is a personal decision for women, but Rasmussen said many women have elected to have their breasts reconstructed because they “are part of their personal identity.”
On the other other hand, Rasmussen said many women say “cut them off, I don’t need them any more and I’ll get my chest tattooed.”