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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. About one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that many women can survive breast cancer if it’s found and treated early. A mammogram — the screening test for breast cancer — can help find breast cancer early, when it’s easier to treat.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Encourage the women in your life to ask their doctors about mammograms, and encourage area communities, organizations, families and individuals to get involved.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to spread the word about steps women can take to detect breast cancer early.

Here are just a few ideas

  • Ask doctors and nurses to speak to women about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer.
  • Encourage women ages 40 to 49 to talk with their doctors about when to start getting mammograms.
  • Organize an event to talk with women ages 50 to 74 in the community about getting mammograms every two years.

Over the next several pages, you will find information from the Lowcountry’s leading hospitals, clinics and specialists.


Important information from the Lowcountry’s leading hospitals, clinics and specialists...


cancer october2A big thank you to the women of Hilton Head Island! Because of you, 15 of your community sisters have had a chance to be breast cancer survivors.

Serving our community was a goal when SouthCoast Health Imaging opened three years ago. We were excited to be the first in the Lowcountry to offer 3-D mammography, so we combined our goal and our passion. For every 10 mammograms we have performed, we have donated a mammogram to Volunteers in Medicine.

When women have an annual screening mammogram, most breast cancers are diagnosed at stage 0 or stage 1. Nearly 100 percent of these women will be alive and well in five years — breast cancer survivors. Unfortunately, the survival rate decreases as the mass enlarges or metastasizes: the survival rate for stage 2 is 93 percent, the rate for stage 3 is 72 percent, and the rate for stage 4 is 22 percent. In spite of these statistics, only 65 percent of eligible women in South Carolina have their annual mammograms.

Screening mammography is covered by your insurance without a deductible or copay as a prevention service. For patients with health insurance, there is no financial reason not to have an annual mammogram. Women can even self refer, no order is needed.

Unfortunately, 15 percent of non-elderly adults living in South Carolina still do not have health insurance. Join our team in supporting Volunteers in Medicine. Have your annual mammogram. Do it for you. Do it for those you love. Do it for your community sisters. Make it possible for every woman on Hilton Head Island to have her annual mammogram, and if a breast cancer is diagnosed, to be a survivor!

Details: 912-691-4200, www.southcoast-health.com/imaging


The Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah was the first facility in the state of Georgia to offer Intrabeamintraoperative radiation therapy, or IORT, for breast cancer treatment. This treatment has already helped 340 women throughout the region reduce their breast cancer treatment time by days, weeks and even months.

The traditional treatment for early-stage breast cancer is a breast-conserving lumpectomy to remove the tumor, followed by up to six weeks of daily radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. But research has shown that, too often, women do not pursue the follow-up radiation therapy. They cite the inconvenience of time, distance or difficulty accessing a treatment facility. Other reasons include not wanting to deal with radiation side effects, such as skin irritation, fatigue and exposing heart and lung tissue to radiation.

IORT addresses all of these issues. It delivers radiation directly into the tumor bed during breast-conserving surgery. This kills cancer cells, shortens treatment time, and reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence. For some women, IORT eliminates the need for any additional radiation therapy after surgery. For others, it can shorten radiation treatment time. And because IORT delivers radiation directly to the tumor bed, there is less damage to surrounding heart and lung tissue and no irritating skin effects.

The Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute is the only facility in southeast Georgia offering this breakthrough treatment. To learn more, visit breastcancer.memorialhealth.com.

Details: 912-350-8000, www.memorialhealth.com



Visit Your Doctor: Even after treatment, your doctor will want to watch your health closely. See your doctor as directed. You may be asked to come in twice a year or more. Other members of your health care team will also want to see you. At these visits, report any changes in your breasts or problems with your general health.

Schedule Mammograms: Your doctor will tell you how often to have mammograms. During your appointment, extra X-rays may be taken. There is no need for concern. This is common after treatment for breast cancer.

Perform Breast Self-Exams: Be sure to do monthly breast self-exams. If you've had breast surgery or treatment, your breasts probably look and feel different. Ask your doctor how to do the exams and what to look for. Remember to check:

  • Both the left and right side of the chest.
  • The skin over the chest wall.
  • Any incisions or scars.
  • Above and below the collarbone.
  • The armpits.
  • The entire chest wall, down to the bottom of the ribs.

Details: 843-379-2800, www.bme4u.com


cancer october3Beaufort Memorial Keyserling Cancer Center has been approved to participate in a National Cancer Institute clinical trial studying one of the most promising treatment approaches for breast cancer. This opportunity is made possible by the hospital’s new affiliation with the Medical University of South Carolina Health System, MUSC Health, the Charleston-based academic medical center that includes the expertise of the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

Now in its second phase, the Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, known as MATCH, is studying how well treatment directed by genetic testing works in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphomas that are no longer responding to standard therapy.

Qualifying patients will be treated with drugs or drug combinations that target the specific gene mutation in their tumor rather than the organ site of the cancer. The trial, which already includes many more drugs for testing than most other clinical trials, will continue to add new treatments as promising targeted therapies are developed.

“It’s really groundbreaking,” said Connie Duke, Beaufort Memorial’s cancer program director. “It’s going to be one of the largest clinical trials ever undertaken in the U.S.”

The trial will examine the tumors from as many as 5,000 patients. The biopsy specimens will undergo DNA sequencing to identify those with genetic abnormalities that may respond to drugs that have either been approved by the FDA for another type of cancer or are still being studied, but have shown some effectiveness against tumors with a particular genetic alteration.  

“These clinical studies are at the forefront of cancer care,” said Dr. Majd Chahin, director of oncology and principal investigator for the local trials. “If it weren’t for these trials, some patients wouldn’t have any other treatment options.”

For more information on the MATCH trial, call Beaufort Memorial’s Keyserling Cancer Center at 843-522-7800.

Details: 843-522-5200, www.bmhsc.org


cancer october5A cancer diagnosis introduces a host of new emotions, needs and questions into everything from your finances and daily routine to your nutritional needs. And that means your cancer treatment needs go beyond the strictly medical. At Summit Cancer Care, we understand this. 

You are not just a patient with a disease; to us, you are a person with whom we will travel on your journey to healing. Our care team treats each other and patients like family.

We help you take your first steps towards regaining control over your health. Our team will be by your side in your fight against cancer. We will answer your questions, educate you about treatment options and talk about your concerns.

In addition to their training in treating cancer, our physicians are specially trained hematologists, which means they can diagnose and treat your blood disorder. We also offer IV therapy for blood disorders such as iron deficient anemia and blood clotting disorders.

Details: 843-705-4848, www.summitcancercare.com 


cancer october43-Step Plan for Preventive Breast Care

All women can get breast cancer — even those with no family history of the disease. In fact, most breast cancer is not genetic. Finding breast cancer early is the main goal of routine breast care. Finding problems early gives you the best chance of successful treatment. Routine care can also help find other noncancerous or benign conditions, too.

Step 1. Breast self-exam

The American Cancer Society says all women should get to know how their breasts normally look and feel. Performing a routine breast exam can help you notice changes to your breasts such as:

  • A lump.
  • A leaky fluid, or discharge, other than breast milk.
  • Swelling.
  • Skin irritation or dimpling.
  • Nipple problems (for example, pain, redness, flaking, or turning inward).

If you notice any of these changes, see your health care provider right away.

Step 2. Clinical breast exam

Your physical exam should include a clinical breast exam:

  • Between ages 29 and 39, women should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional every one to three years.
  • After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.

Step 3. Mammogram

A mammogram can find cancer or other problems early, before a lump can be felt.

  • Riverside Women’s Care recommends yearly screening for all women ages 40 to 54. Women ages 55 and older should get mammograms every two years, or they may still choose to have a yearly screening.

Talk with your health care provider about your own personal risk factors. This will help you decide when to start getting mammograms and how often to have them.

Details: 843-540-5857, www.riversidewomenscare.com


5-7 p.m., registration at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. Wine & Design Bluffton. Enjoy a night of education, fun, painting and sipping in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, Hilton Head Preparatory School’s Main Street Theatre, 3000 Main St. Eight local woman take to the stage to tell tales of monumental moments in their lives — all marked by a particular dress, a pair of shoes, a bathing suit, a tattoo — in Lean Ensemble Theatre’s production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s comic yet poignant play “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” This one-night performance benefits Women in Philanthropy and LoCo Motion/Carolina Cups’ breast cancer screening, treatment, and research program. Stay afterwards to share experiences and thoughts with the cast and audience. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased online at www.leanensemble.org or by calling 843-715-6676.