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HEALTHBEAT 4: Treating, Preventing Breast Cancer

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DAKOTA DUNES, S.D. (KTIV) -- It's a difficult diagnosis for many women to hear. But according to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime.

This year alone in the United States, more than 276,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and more than 42,000 women will die from breast cancer.

Each year, work is being done in Siouxland to help detect cancers as early as possible.

"If you can detect cancer at stage one and even at stage 2, we're talking in most cases, at curing breast cancer," said Dr. Adnan Qalbani, MercyOne Dakota Dunes Breast Care Center Medical Imaging Director.

It's cancer that impacts the breast tissue and is deadly when not treated or caught early. Dr. Adnan Qalbani is the medical imaging director at MercyOne Dakota Dunes Breast Care. He said to catch that cancer early, it's important to begin annual mammograms at age 40.

"The annual mammogram, we see findings on them from time to time that may or may not be cancer," said Dr. Qalbani. "It's a screening exam. We're casting a net out there to find what potentially might be cancer. Then we have them back and we do a more detailed workup to find those cancers."

Another piece of vital technology is the stereotactic biopsy table. Patients lay face down on the table with their breasts coming through an opening.

"Historically a stereotactic biopsy is used to target microcalcifications," said Dr. Qalbani. "Specs of calcium in the breast which can be the earliest signs of breast cancer known as DCIS. This new machine X-rays each specimen as it comes out. So as soon as I got it, I know I'm done."

Dr. Qalbani said that means he won't have to sample the area 10 or 12 times, but can rather stop the biopsy sooner. That saves the patient from potential bleeding and other complications.

"Now in real-time I know I've got the target," said Dr. Qalbani. "Each piece that gets sampled immediately gets X-rayed and I can see if I, whether I've got those calcifications or not. Saves unnecessary surgeries and it makes their time on the table a lot shorter."

That's why he said mammograms and self exams are so critical.

"The larger it gets, the more aggressive the treatment has to be, the more likely it could have gone to lymph nodes, and then the more aggressive that treatment has to be," said Dr. Qalbani.

Dr. Qalbani stresses that it is safe to come in and get your mammograms or get checked out right now.

He said if you are doing self-exams, especially if you are pre-menopausal, it's important to do them at the same time each month. That's because hormones can affect breast tissue and how it feels and changes. He said it's best to check during day 7 to day 10 of your cycle.

Michaela Feldmann

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