Doctors say when breast cancer is detected early, the survival rate is nearly 98 percent. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we begin a special series on the disease and the issues affecting women of all ages in eastern Kentucky.
Doctors say women should start getting mammograms at age 40. But Doctor Kirti Jain with the Highlands Cancer Center says there is a common exam women should also do to help find cancer in its earliest stages.
Jill Stafford says she was in the shower when she discovered the lump in her breast.
"When I did find out, you break down and you don't know what to do. You really don't know what to do," says Stafford.
Doctors say most women find their own cancerous lumps through self breast exams.
"A breast self exam is most important, probably even more important than a mammogram, because most of the lumps are discovered by women themselves," says Dr. Jain.
Dr. Jain says many women are scared to get see a doctor or schedule a mammogram, but he says the smaller the tumor is when it is detected, the better the chance of survival.
"You can detect a breast cancer as small as a pin head or slightly bigger with a mammogram. But by the time you feel it, it will have to be almost the size of a dime," says Dr. Jain.
Stafford says she now lets everyone know how important it is to have their exam.
"Everywhere I go, I tell them to get a mammogram, no matter if they feel anything or not, go get your mammogram," says Stafford.
Stafford will finish her current round of radiation in November.
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