Breast Cancer Facts Every Woman Should Know

(THE DALLES, Ore. – Oct. 13, 2021) — In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mid-Columbia Medical Center is encouraging women to learn more about breast health, including knowing the risk factors for breast cancer and what you can do to protect yourself. 

“Breast health isn’t something people talk much about, but it is such an important part of a woman’s overall health and wellness,” said Kerry Proctor, M.D., a Pathologist at the Breast Center at MCMC.  “Especially as you get older, as your risk increases with age. But the fact is that breast cancer can affect anyone —  women or men – at any age.”

There are risk factors for breast cancer people are born with: being female, getting older (most breast cancers are found in women 55 and older), family history, inheriting certain genes (BRCA 1 and BRCA 1), and having dense breast tissue. But there are also lifestyle factors, and those are things that individuals have more control over, such as being overweight, being inactive, drinking alcohol. To reduce risk, maintain a healthy weight, get regular physical activity and limit alcohol use. 

 “Screening for breast cancer is so important, because early detection means more treatment options and a better chance of survival,” said Dr. Proctor.

Signs, Symptoms and Self-Exams

The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump, swelling, nipple pain, nipple discharge, or dry, red skin on the breast. “We encourage all women of all ages to perform monthly self-breast exams, this will help you familiarize yourself with how your breasts look and feel,” said Didi Abbas, RT (M) (BS) (ARRT),  of MCMC Mammography services. “Call your doctor if you detect a change in appearance or a suspicious lump.”

3D Mammography

When women turn 40, it is recommended to begin getting annual mammograms. MCMC offers the most advanced technology for detecting breast cancer. Known as digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, this technique takes images from several different angles to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast. The images are converted into a stack of very thin layers, or “slices,” allowing a radiologist to evaluate the breast layer by layer. This greater accuracy means better breast cancer detection and a reduced chance of being called back for additional testing. A number of studies have found that 3D mammograms increase detection of invasive breast cancer by 30-40% compared to traditional mammography, while also reducing the number of false positives. With this technology, radiologists and physicians can better detect possible abnormalities in the breast at an early stage when they’re easier to treat.

If it is time for your mammogram, call 541-298-4000 to schedule an appointment.

Since 2009, The Breast Center at MCMC has been continuously accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) and is the only NAPBC- accredited breast center in the Gorge. Accreditation ensures Gorge patients have access to the highest quality breast care without having to leave their hometown.

The Breast Center at MCMC provides important resources for women along the entire health spectrum. By integrating screening, early diagnosis, patient advocacy and treatment, the breast center covers all breast health needs. Accreditation is only granted to breast centers that provide comprehensive, compassionate care. MCMC was the first hospital in Oregon, and today is one of only six in the state, to earn accreditation.

Founded in 1901, Mid-Columbia Medical Center is a nationally recognized hospital dedicated to serving residents of The Dalles and its surrounding communities. In 1992, MCMC became the first hospital in the nation to integrate the Planetree philosophy of patient care, which emphasizes the need to address a person’s intellectual, environmental, emotional and spiritual concerns in addition to their physical needs. As a Planetree-affiliated hospital, MCMC works to provide a caring, nurturing and educational environment; puts great efforts into humanizing and demystifying the medical experience; and strives to empower people to become active partners in their own healthcare. For more information visit