Breast Cancer - My Interview with Dr. Kristi Funk

In Support of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kristi Funk, celebrity breast cancer surgeon, to discuss the importance of early detection. Dr. Funk is a board-certified surgical breast specialist and has helped thousands of women through breast cancer treatment.

You may have seen Dr. Funk on the CBS evening news, as a guest surgeon and co-host of CBS' The Doctors,and as guest co-host of NBC's Extra.

Yoplait has teamed up with Dr. Funk this year to reach women and men with important breast health information -- specifically facts about early detection, risk reduction and ways to support the cause. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer within her lifetime and age is a significant risk factor.

I talked with Dr. Funk about early detection and prevention. The following is our interview:

Is the incidence of breast cancer on the rise? If so, what you think are the biggest contributing factors? If not, are we getting better at prevention?

The incidence of breast cancer has been relatively stable since 2003. Prior to that, there was a significant jump in the 1980s, presumably due to increased detection of cancers with improved mammography screening. The rate also increased between 1994-1999, thought to be secondary to the use of hormone replacement therapy. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Some lifestyle factors have contributed to the incidence of breast cancer, but the good news is that survival rates have increased over the past ten years. Early detection is key, so it is important for everyone to perform breast self-exams, and women 40 years and older must schedule yearly mammograms.

What other signs (besides lumps) can/should we be looking for on a regular basis that may signal cancer early on?

Here are critical signs that should send you to your doctor STAT for a breast evaluation: your nipple retracts inward (and it used to be pointing out); you notice a change in the color or texture of the skin over most of the breast (specifically if it looks like the peel of an orange: thickened, ruddy orange color, tiny pits); your nipple and/or areola is cracked, bleeding, flaking, or painful; there is discharge of any color coming spontaneously through your nipple (often noticed by staining on a bra or nightgown – it appears without you pushing it out); one breast is noticeably enlarging; there is a lump in your armpit.

Can you discuss the role of diet & exercise in the development of cancer (specifically breast cancer?)

Leading a healthy lifestyle is important. Eat a high fiber, low fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean meats. Exercise regularly (at least 4 hours of medium to vigorous exercise per week). Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk for breast cancer. Find a BMI calculator online, and compute your body mass index – make sure it is between 18.5-25. Many cancers are fueled by estrogen, and certain dietary element, as well as body fat, increase the total estrogen level in your body. The exact effect of diet on the development of cancer is complex and poorly understood. However, it is safe to say that your diet either helps or hinders your body’s ability to combat known carcinogens and to repair cells that go awry.

Are there any foods (or habits) that have been proven to lower breast cancer risk?

Lifestyle and diet are two factors that you can control when it comes to reducing your risk for breast cancer. Maintain a healthy diet, high in fiber and low in fat. Make sure you meet the daily dose recommendations for vitamins and minerals. Favor fluids known to be rich in antioxidants, such as green tea and acai. Exercise. Limit alcohol to fewer than 7 drinks a week. These habits are linked to increasing the risk of breast cancer: delayed childbearing until after 30, having fewer children overall, breast feeding less than a year or not at all, taking hormones, being overweight, drinking alcohol, and being sedentary.

At what age should a woman start "early detection" methods? Puberty? 20's, 30's?

I recommend women get a baseline mammogram at age 35, then a mammogram every year once they are 40-years old and older. When interested, women should conduct breast self-exams starting at age 20, performing the self-exam once a month ideally one week after their periods, when the breast tissue is least lumpy and less tender. I also recommend that women visit a professional for a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years in her 20s, and then every year thereafter.


Joanie M said...

Popping in from SITS! Thanks for the follow!

I'm a caregiver to my significant other who is battling lymphoma. He just had a stem cell transplant and is doing great!

Trixie said...

Stopping by from SITS. Thanks for the follow.

This was a great interview with a lot of useful information. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for asking about lumps and what else to look for. I've always wondered that.

Lisa Anne said...

Thank you for sharing this information. It's very helpful to all women and I think I am lucky to have read this. Thank you!

5thsister said...

Very informative blog! Great information. Thank you for your comment on my blog. I'll be following you, too!

Mom's Fortress of Solitude said...

Very informative, Angela! Thank you for this post.

I followed your comment on my blog over here, and I'm so glad I did. I love the interview and journalistic approach to blogging.

Angela @ Mom's Fortress of Solitude

Holly said...

Great interview. Breastfeeding also greatly reduces your risk of breast cancer. So if you got 'em, use 'em.

Thanks for stopping by my site! I appreciate the follow. Am now following you.

beenomom said...

Excellent post! I did a breast cancer awarenss post also, and spoke from my own experience. I think the more people chose to speak out the more comfortable women will become with discussing these issues with their doctors! Thanks for helping to spread the word.

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