Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
Overton Brooks increases Breast Cancer Awareness
Overton Brooks VA Medical Center showed up in pink Thursday, Oct. 16 for National Pink Out Day, part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The medical center competed for “pinkest” VA facility.
The Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center issued the challenge five years ago and has done so every year since, turning the competition into a tradition that increases breast cancer awareness for both staff and patients. Although there is no "real" winner, VA employees said they had fun showing their support for such a worthy cause.
To Brenda Ligon, Nurse Practitioner, Women Veterans Program Manager, the event increases awareness of breast cancer for women, but also states that men are also at risk.
“Regardless of gender, Ligon says that if someone feels a “lump” or growth, that it is not necessarily a cause for alarm, but should seek advice from their primary care provider.
“What you are feeling could be a calcification or fibro glandular tissue or other benign process,” she added. “It’s kind of controversial, but what we’ve seen is that women taught breast self-examinations and discover what they perceive as a lump or abnormality, can cause panic for like of a better term.” Literature from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) also states that annual checks can lead to unnecessary imaging tests, biopsies and inconvenience due to false-positive screening results in women without cancer.”
For this reason, VHA does not recommend for or against annual screening and no longer teaches self-examination; however, if a Veteran finds that she has breast care concerns, Overton Brooks VA medical center staff can help.
“We have so many more programs for women now than we had several years ago,” Ligon said. “We have the Purple Team on the seventh floor. This is an all-female panel located in a private comfortable location that offers comprehensive primary care with that provider serving as a “gatekeeper” which includes placing consults for health care needs in the surrounding community as needed.” They also have a part-time gynecologist for services such as follow-up for abnormal pap smears and other gender related issues.
VHA, which Overton Brooks VA falls under, recommends screening for breast cancer with mammography every two years for ‘average risk’ women age 50 through 74 and neither recommends for or against screening for breast cancer for women age 75 years and older. VHA literature also states that, “The current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for breast cancer with mammography in women age 75 years and older. If screening for breast cancer with mammography is offered, patients should understand the uncertainty about the balance of benefits and harms.”