In October, let's talk about breasts


The Mirror

Breasts are on the minds of folks from Federal Way and across the country this month as medical officials and non-profits spread the word during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Women’s Health and Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital will host a Bunco for Breast Care fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club.

The event will raise money to fund mammograms for women who can’t afford health care.

Cynthia Kannenberg, Women’s Health and Breast Center manager, said organizers hope to raise $2,000. The cost to attend is $22 per person and will include light appetizers. Cocktails will be available for purchase. Prizes including massages, pedicures, manicures, skin care products and rounds of golf will be awarded to winning and losing Bunco players.

Bunco is a simple dice game that can be easily picked up by amateurs. Bunco events are often more about the gossip and the socializing than the strategy of the game, Kannenberg said.

“It’s girls’ night out,” she said. “It’s very fun, we’ve got instructions on how to play. It’s silly. Wear pink.”

Bunco may be a silly game, but breast cancer is a serious topic, doctors say.

Sharon Metcalf, an OB-GYN at St. Francis Women’s Health Care, hopes that people will consider their breast health this month. Women over age 40 should be getting regular mammograms, and younger women should consider their breast cancer risks, she said.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and the main cause of death in women 45 to 55 years old in the United States. Lifestyle choices in the U.S. increase women’s breast cancer risk compared to other countries, Metcalf said.

“It varies from country to country because of diet,” she said. “High-fat diet and lack of exercise increases breast cancer as well as postponing children.”

Indulgence in alcoholic beverages also ups the likelihood of getting breast cancer.

“Even one glass of wine or beer every night can increase their risk,” Metcalf said.

Although self breast exams are helpful, they don’t substitute for regular mammograms. Women over 40 should get mammograms at least every two years and women over 50 should get them once a year.

At St. Francis, radiologists in July began using new digital mammography machines to get better visual images, St. Francis spokesman Gale Robinette said. The new machines reduce the exam times, give a smaller dose of radiation and provide clearer images.

Contact Margo Horner: or (253) 925-5565.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer:

Getting older.

Having inherited breast cancer genes.

Having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia or carcinoma in situ.

Having a mother, daughter or sister who has had breast cancer.

Having a high breast density on a mammogram.

Being exposed to large amounts of radiation, such as having very frequent spine X-rays.

A personal history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Starting menopause after age 55.

Never having children, or having your first child after age 30.

Being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult.

Having more than one drink of alcohol per day.

Currently or recently using combined estrogen and progesterone hormone replacement therapy.

Being less than 12 years old at the time of your first period.

Taking birth control pills for five years or longer.

Source: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation

Age factor

A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer increases with age. Below are is the chance by current age:

Age 20: 1 in 1,985

Age 30: 1 in 229

Age 40: 1 in 68

Age 50: 1 in 37

Age 60: 1 in 26

Age 70: 1 in 24

Ever: 1 in 8

Don’t miss

The Women’s Health and Breast Center at St. Francis Hospital will host a Bunco for Breast Care fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club, 3583 SW 320th St., Federal Way. To learn more or donate, call (888) 825-3227.

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