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1 in 8.

That’s how many women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Even though you can’t prevent cancer, you can be proactive when it comes to your health. Breast cancer starts when abnormal cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. They usually form a tumor – that can often be felt or seen on an x-ray. The first step in protecting yourself against breast cancer is understanding your risk for developing this disease. 

The Risks are Real

Some risk factors you can control – like smoking. Others – like your genetics and family history – are not. It’s worth noting all the ways you’re at risk for developing breast cancer, because studies have shown that your overall risk is due to not just one, but a combination of risk factors. 

The Centers for Disease Control highlights risk factors:  

  • Aging. Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50, and your risk for developing the condition increases with age. 

  • Your genetics. Changes or mutations in certain genes – such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 – that are inherited increase your risk. 

  • Family history or personal history of breast cancer. If you mom, sister, or daughter (considered a first-degree relative) is diagnosed, you’re at increased risk. And if several people in either side of your parent’s family have been diagnosed, that also increases your chances of developing the condition. If you’ve had breast cancer yourself, the likelihood that you’ll get breast cancer again also grows.

  • Neglecting your health. Not being physically active can play a role in your overall breast cancer risk. Women who are overweight or obese have a greater risk than women who maintain a normal weight. Drinking alcohol also plays a role. 
See the CDC's full list here. 

Talking with Your Doctor is KeY

Having risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll get breast cancer, but it does give you the opportunity to talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and what screening is appropriate for you. And if you do suspect a breast problem, USA surgeons who specialize in breast disease offer comprehensive evaluations including breast lumps, abnormal mammograms, breast pain, nipple drainage and evaluation of patients with strong family history of breast cancer. Learn more about our breast services here, or call (423) 267-0466 to schedule an appointment today. 




Dr. Dowden talks about advanced surgical capabilities at usa

Robotic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery technique akin to laparoscopic surgery, but robotic surgery has several important advantages and differences. As in laparoscopic surgery, small skin incisions are used for entry of instruments from outside the body. The robotic system is then attached to the instruments, and the surgeon controls them from a console in the operating room a few feet away from the patient. The surgeon fully controls the instruments just as in open or laparoscopic surgery.

The robotic system does not act on its own. As opposed to laparoscopic surgery, robotic instruments have mechanical wrists that have a range of motion that exceeds even that of the human wrist. This allows the surgeon to perform your surgery with the same precise movements they would use in open surgery. Robotic surgery also utilizes a high-definition, magnified 3-D camera system that creates enhanced visualization. Minimally invasive robotic surgery typically is less painful than open surgery, which can lead to an earlier return to normal activities and work. In order to perform robotic surgery, a surgeon must complete a specialized training course.


Jacob Dowden, MD
USA General & Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgeon

Posted by University Surgical | Topic: Ask a Doc

USA General Surgeon Dr. Kellogg answers a question about the appendix in today's Ask a Doc: 

Q: What is the appendix, and what does it do?

A: The appendix is a small, finger-shaped pouch attached to the start of the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Its job is to protect good bacteria in the gut. Most people only think about their appendix when it becomes inflamed, requiring an emergency procedure to have it removed.

This inflammation of the appendix is called appendicitis. It's a medical emergency that can quickly evolve into a life-threatening situation if not treated right away. Without treatment, an inflamed appendix can rupture and cause a potentially fatal infection. 

Appendicitis is usually caused by a blockage of fecal matter inside the appendix. The lining of the appendix and the intestines work to fight bacterial infections and can swell, leading to the obstruction. Symptoms of appendicitis are wide-ranging — what starts with bloating and pain around the belly button routinely moves to the lower right side of the stomach and becomes sharp and continuous. Your belly will most likely be tender to the touch, and sneezing, coughing, deep breathing or sudden movements can cause the pain to intensify.

Appendicitis is serious and can result in death without timely treatment. An inflamed appendix can rupture in two to three days after symptoms begin. Even if your symptoms aren't typical (i.e. stabbing abdominal pain), you need to act quickly. Because a ruptured appendix can spill dangerous organism throughout the abdomen, it's important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

— Dr. Benjamin Kellogg, USA General Surgeon
Dr. Kellogg sees patients in the Dayton and Hixson offices. Find more information here.

Posted by University Surgical | Topic: Ask a Doc