Lunden's breast cancer diagnosis can help other women - CBS46 News

Lunden's breast cancer diagnosis can help other women

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A health alert tonight for woman concerned about the threat of breast cancer.
A mammogram may not be enough to detect the disease early.

Former Good Morning America Anchor Joan Lunden revealed Tuesday morning that she is battling breast cancer. In Lunden's case the disease advanced without her knowing, despite the fact that she received regular mammograms.

Lunden's experience is one that woman should pay attention to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to them. 

For decades Lunden was the type of journalist that would provide Americans- and in particular women- with information vital to their daily lives.

"You are a better mom, you are a person, you are a better mate and you are a better employee if you know in your heart of hearts you are taking care of your health," Lunden said.

That is why it was so shocking when Lunden revealed her breast cancer diagnosis after an initial mammogram missed the disease.

"I think it is very poignant that Joan Lunden has brought this to the public's attention," said Dr. Eric Melzig, a world class breast cancer surgeon from Richmond Surgical.

Melzig and said that Lunden's situation is very common. The former TV star has fibrous dense tissue in her breast. A situation that leads to problems with traditional mammography.

"If you've ever flown into Chicago when there is fog you can see the top of the buildings but not the streets," said Melzig.

And Lunden isn't alone- Melzig said anywhere from 25% to 45% of women have fibrous dense tissue- and for them a mammogram is not enough. A secondary ultrasound is necessary to make sure their is no cancer.

The full cycle of available tests- done correctly and at the right time do save lives.

"At this point in time it is still the best screening for a lady for early detection," Melzig said.

And for Lunden- a wake up call-- but one she hopes will help other woman.

A mammogram can detect if a woman has dense tissue in her breast. There is a state law requires that your doctor informs you of it's presence. From there you have the option of additional tests. So regardless of your situation regular mammograms are still the first- and most important step.

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