Eric Holtrop: Skin and breast cancers |

Eric Holtrop: Skin and breast cancers


This is a correction to a Feb. 23 statement in The Union that breast cancer is the No. 1 diagnosed cancer. This is incorrect. Skin cancer is by far the most diagnosed cancer in the United States and the world. Lifetime risk is 1/5; lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1/8. The rest of the article was correct.

As for diagnosing breast cancer, this is composed of three steps. Step one is teaching the breast exam by your physician. this is called the clinical breast exam. This usually begins at age 30 and captures 10% of cancers not found in mammography.

Next step is the patient performing the home breast exam. This is lacking in the United States. For the most complete home breast exam directions, see my website at Forty percent of breast cancer is detected at home, closing in on 50% with a good home exam.

Last is the mammography. Starting age varies; discuss this with your physician. Overall mammography is the best screening test we have for breast cancer. This is every year or two, depending on what your breasts look like under mammography.

There is no large-scale evidence supporting thermography or ultrasound as a screening test for breast cancer. I sure wished they worked because of the cost and lack of radiation component, but studies repeatedly don’t show them to be a good screening test.

Eric Holtrop, MD

Grass Valley

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