Dr. April L. Speed is a surgeon and breast health expert. Dr. Speed completed both her Internship and General surgery residency at Grady Memorial Hospital, one of the busiest Level I trauma centers in the Southeast. Upon completion of an intensive General Surgery residency she went on to receive the prestigious Susan G. Komen-sponsored Breast Fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

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What does it mean to have dense breasts?
Dense breasts mean the tissue is very thick, making it difficult for MGM to detect every lump. Sometimes an ultrasound or breast MR will help see the tissue better.

Is it true that women should be careful about what type of deodorant we use? Are there harmful ingredients in some of these products?
Deodorant has not been found to cause breast cancer

Just had mammogram. Came back all clear. Last night, I noticed what seems to be like an enlarged vein on my left breast. What could it be? Any cause for alarm?
The swollen vein in your breast is called superficial thrombophlebitis. NSAIDs (Motrin, Aleve) are the cure for that. It should go away. If it hasn’t gone away with 2 weeks of treatment. Go back and see your doctor right away.

I’ve had one cyst removed in each breast. Both were the benign. Am I at a higher risk to get breast cancer because of the previous cysts?
Having previous cysts removed increases you risk if they have atypical cells so always ask for the specifics of the pathology/cytology report. Don’t accept a “benign” or non-cancerous report. Have your doctor explain what the results mean for you today, 5 years from now and overall lifetime, in terms of no or increased risk.

Are there any particular foods or food group that is attributed to breast cancer?
There are no identified foods to cause breast cancer but several things can help reduce your overall risk and position your body to be stronger to fight off cancer. These include, reducing your intake of alcohol (1-2 drinks per day), reduce intake of processed  foods and sugars, decrease foods high in saturated fats ( Sunday dinner…Ox tails). Moderation is key. Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Is it true women who breast feed are less like to get breast cancer?
Nursing/breast-feeding does reduce breast cancer.

How will Obamacare affect my ability to get a mammogram?
It will actually make it easier (essentially no or low cost) as it is now covered under the affordable care act.

What do you do if you have a breast issue and you can’t afford the MGM?
There are many local programs that offer assistance through their local Susan Komen affiliate, hospital breast navigator program and even emergency breast Medicaid which financially assists any woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer with covering the cost of imaging and treatment.
What do you do if you have a breast issue and you can’t afford the MGM?
There are many local programs that offer assistance through their local Susan Komen affiliate, hospital breast navigator program and even emergency breast Medicaid which financially assists any woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer with covering the cost of imaging and treatment.

What kind of screenings do you suggest for those who are adopted and are not aware of their family history?
Adopted patients not aware of family history can be frustrating for any individual but these patients should get screened just like the rest of the population. Clinical breast exam every three years starting at age 20 and annual MGM starting at age 40. I strongly recommend if there are any new changes in the breast regardless of age or family history to go see your doctor right away.

What is 3D tomosynthesis?
3D mammography, also known as 3D breast tomosynthesis, is a new groundbreaking technology that generates 3D images of the breast and gives physicians a clearer look through the overlapping breast tissue. This more comprehensive view increases the ability to detect and diagnose small tumors that may be hidden on a traditional mammogram, especially in dense breast tissue. As a result, 3D mammography improves cancer detection and reduces false-positive and false-negative findings. Fewer women are being called back for additional imaging or for biopsies.

My 15-year-old granddaughter had a hard lump on the side of her breast. The doctor checked it and told her to keep checking it, should we do something else?
This may be benign but at least get a baseline ultrasound then have it followed up in 6 months-year. This may be a benign lump common in your girls your grand daughters age called a fibroadenoma. Usually these are just watched because they usually get smaller over time. If they continue to grow it may need to be removed.

As a survivor since being diagnosed in 06, I took tamoxifen for 5 years and finished in 2012. Have you noticed re-occurrence in women once they have finished that 5 year window. One of my friends finished hers in 08 and ended up with pancreatic cancer in 2010. She just succumbed about a month ago to it! Just wondering if you have any stats on that.
No we don’t see an increased risk of recurrence after 5 yrs. The highest risk of recurrence is in the first 5 yrs and the first 2 yrs are the times we see recurrence the most. There are some studies that suggest 10 yrs of Tamoxifen instead of five may be helpful in terms of recurrence but we’ll have to wait and see if this bears out. Your friend with a breast cancer recurrence and pancreatic cancer may have had an undiagnosed cancer gene so this event may not have been related to her stopping the Tamoxifen.

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