The American Cancer Society expects increases in invasive cancer cases, and deaths, in 2019.

Ochsner Baton Rouge is putting an emphasis on early detection to increase the chances of successful treatment, dubbing October Breast Self-Awareness Month.

“If we can be proactive about detecting the risks for breast cancer, then we can likely pursue more positive outcomes," said Dr. Burke “Jay” Brooks, chairman of Ochsner’s Baton Rouge hematology/oncology department. 

Except for skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. Many experts say self-awareness is a key factor in early detection. This self-awareness can come in many forms.

KNOW YOUR RISK FACTORS: Since you can’t stop the two biggest risks, being a woman and aging, it’s vital to focus on the third biggest risk: Family. Learning your family history is important and will give doctors vital information in forming a proactive screening plan.

ADMINISTER BREAST SELF-EXAMS: Self-exams are important to identify any breast changes, such as: Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area; swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast; change in the size or shape of the breast; dimpling or puckering of the skin; Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple; pulling-in of your nipple or other parts of the breast; nipple discharge that starts suddenly; new pain in one spot that doesn't go away.

GET SCREENED: Have a clinical breast exam at least every three years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40. Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk. Speak with your doctor about which screenings are right for you if you are at high risk.

BE WELL: Continuing a healthy lifestyle is important to deter many diseases, including breast cancer. Maintain a healthy weight, add exercise into your routine, limit alcohol intake and limit menopausal hormone use.

“Self-awareness of risk factors, exams, screenings and wellness help prevention and early detection,” Ochsner oncologist Dr. Jeanette Kovtun said. “Screening mammograms are covered under private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. If you are of age for a mammogram, there really is no excuse not to get one annually.”

This year, according to American Cancer Society statistics, it's estimated in the U.S. that there will be 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 41,760 breast cancer deaths among women, and 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 500 breast cancer deaths among men. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call (225) 761-5200 or visit