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Cape Cod breast surgeon stresses need for early detection of breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Photo by Jason Deines. Courtesy Pexels.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Local doctors agree with new guidance that women should start getting regular mammograms at an earlier age.

Dr. Jill Oxley is a Breast Surgeon and Director of Breast Care Services at Cape Cod Healthcare.

Dr. Oxley said several national health groups changed their guidance the last few years, stating women should start routine mammograms at age 40.

Some previous advice said women could wait until 50.

Oxley said the new guidelines are for patients who are at an average risk of developing breast cancer.

“Someone who is at a higher than average risk of developing breast cancer could be screened with both mammograms and MRI’s and can start younger.”

Last year, a Brigham and Women’s study found the incidence of younger people being diagnosed with cancer is on the rise.

Oxley said patients can learn more about early detection at Cape Cod Healthcare's Breast Care site.

In addition to mammograms, Oxley said MRIs are another screening tool for women who are at increased risk of breast cancer.

She said the use of MRI for screening has gradually increased over the years, which she describes as a mixed blessing.

“We are finding more cancers, however, increased used of MRI in newly-diagnosed patients has led to other biopsies that may or may not show additional worrisome findings, and because of that we’ve seen an increase in the rate of mastectomy.”

Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Oxley above.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.