Fear paralyzes women from breast exams
Gripped by fear, some women avoid getting screened for breast cancer.  But a UNM oncologist explains how overcoming fear will help women get treatment early.
Credit: Furhana Afrid

As the nation marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, a UNM breast cancer specialist is calling on women to overcome any anxieties they may have about breast exams. Fear, she says, is getting in the way of diagnosing and treating breast cancer early.

“Fear has immobilized (some women),” says Melanie Royce, MD, PhD. "If you tie yourself down and do nothing, inaction is going to be your enemy."

Royce, a professor of medicine at University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine, is encouraging women to shift from a reactive to a proactive role. “The sooner they take action the sooner we can do something for them,’’ explains Royce about the numerous women who come to the UNM Cancer Center with very large tumors.

The cancer specialist is empowering her patients to share their experiences and educate other women in their communities. “Tell your relatives if you are in that situation don’t be like myself, do something.” says Royce, who is reminding both men and women to check for any abnormalities and to seek help immediately if they discover any.

The National Cancer Institute says of the more than 230,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 40,000 died from the disease.

The UNM Cancer Center and the Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC) offer comprehensive breast care - for more information call the cancer center at 505-272-4946 or SRMC in Rio Rancho at 505-994-7000.