A Botsford Hospital physician and nurse believe early detection, new treatments and attitude can help improve the odds of beating breast cancer.
Dr. Frank Vicini and Gerryanna Luscri, a registered nurse and two-time cancer survivor, spoke to an audience of health professionals and local business people Thursday during a lunch at the Farmington Hills hospital, held in cooperation with the Greater Farmington Area Chamber.
For Chamber director Mary Engelman, the occasion was particularly poignant; she recently lost a family member to cancer.
"We're here to educate the community about the different things we can do," she said. "I want more success stories and less tragedies and less heartache."
Vicini reviewed statistics and risk factors, which range from having a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer to obesity and age (older women have a higher risk). He said higher rates of breast cancer are seen in America than in Asia and Africa.
Mammograms, Vicini said, "still represent the single most important thing to do to reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer. Whatever negative thing you hear about mammography, it's very important."
Women over age 40 should get an annual mammogram, he said, adding magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a clearer image of some cancers and will likely be used more in the future.
While women may avoid exams and mammograms out of fear, Vicini said, "The methods of treatment for breast cancer have improved dramatically." In addition, success with less invasive measures in early stage cancers shows "you're not risking your life by saving your breast."
Breast cancer survival rates have improved, Vicini said, from 75 percent in the late 1970s to 90 percent in 2008. "We've had a dramatic impact," he said, "but we have lots of work to do."
Luscri talked about the importance of reducing stress and dealing with the risk factors that women can control, like smoking cessation, losing weight and reducing stress.
"We can't control the things that happen to us, but we certainly are in control of how we respond to it," she said.
One important step, Luscri said, is changing habits. "How we act becomes who we are," she said. "The body believes what the mind perceives."