Central Georgians Talk Preventive Breast Exams

8:16 AM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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We hear all the statistics about the likelihood of you or someone you know being diagnosed.

When Angelina Jolie's announcement made worldwide news, 13WMAZ's Judy Le went out in Central Georgia to put the statistics in terms of real mothers, sisters, daughters and friends.

One in eight women has a chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

"I had an aunt who had breast cancer and who died when I was 11," says Marsha Gainey of Macon.

"My great great grandmother had it and it's crap. It's not good at all," says Macy Schack of Byron.

It's the most common cancer among women in the United States. 

Here are some ways to take control of the disease before it takes control of you.

If you're in your early 20's, start examining your breasts yourself to find lumps.

In your 30's, get clinical breast exams every three years and your doctor's advice.

Once you hit your 40's, get a mammogram every year. The x-ray will detect any masses in your breasts

"There are many women who don't do self breast exams simply because they are afraid of finding an abnormality," says Dr. Linda Hendricks, an oncologist at Centra Georgia Cancer Care. "Finding breast cancer early actually carries a very good prognosis."

Another option for high risk women is genetic testing. 

High risk means you have a family history with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation, as Angelina Jolie did. She got tested and had an 87-percent chance of getting breast cancer .

"These mutations increase breast and ovarian cancer," says Hendricks.

Jolie chose to get a double mastectomy, but what percentage would it take for some women to consider such a drastic measure?  

To find out, Judy let women choose cards with different risk percentages and asked them what they would do.

"I would go ahead and get them chopped off. I mean, they're breasts. It doesn't define me," says Jenna Morgan who pulled a card with an 80-percent risk of having breast cancer.

"The reconstruction is so great now that i would probably do it," says Gainey.

Gainey's daughter, Anna Gainey, had a different opinion. "I just don't believe in getting a mastectomy."

"It's not like it's heart cancer or something like that that I have to have. If it will save my life just by removing it, I don't see why not," says Schack.

Genetic testing is expensive, it ranges from $300 to $3,000, depending on the tests you get. 

That shouldn't keep you from putting your health first. 

Women's preventive health care is covered under the Affordable Care Act. 

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