Self-Advocacy as a Tool in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

-Kavita Patel, MD 

As a radiologist focused on breast imaging for over 20 years, I have worked with many recently diagnosed women who advocated for themselves, insisting on mammograms, resulting in the detection of early-stage breast cancer. I encourage women to advocate for themselves and obtain annual screening mammography, which will put a dent in late-stage cancer diagnoses and deaths.

This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to know that health care disparities persist for women of color. The National Cancer Institute found that Black/African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer. The American Cancer Society did an extensive study on cancer survival disparities and found breast cancer is found in later stages in non-Hispanic Black women and those with a lower socioeconomic status. While many factors must be considered, including genetics and other social determinants, these statistics reinforce the need for self-advocacy.

Women who are at average risk should get annual screenings if they are 40 or older. Breast cancer screenings are recommended as early as age 25 for high-risk women, including women who are positive for the BRCA gene or who have a family history of breast cancer. At Lenox Health Greenwich Village (LHGV) mammography is available to women, men, and transgender individuals (female-to-male and male-to-female).

LHGV offers state-of-the-art care in an outpatient setting. Our 3D mammography unit helps us detect smaller tumors earlier, which is essential to long-term survival. When mammograms demonstrate very small or early cancer, we can perform image-guided localizations, pinpointing the exact location of lesions for surgeons to remove. At LHGV, thanks to our proximity to the surgical unit, patients can seamlessly move from lesion localization to surgical removal to recovery at home.

All women should advocate for themselves. Speaking up can help diagnose breast cancer sooner, increasing the rates of survival. I am proud to work at LHGV where our highly specialized staff makes a consorted effort to listen to our patients’ concerns.

Kavita Patel, MD is the Chief of Radiology at Lenox Health Greenwich Village

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