Pisgah Family Health News

June 2013

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Fight to make yourself and the world cancer free

Office News

Welcome Shanna Buckner

Shanna Buckner

In May 2013 Shanna joined our practice as a part-time medical assistant. Shanna recently graduated from Asheville-Buncombe Technical College with a degree in Medical Assisting. She plans to further her education with a degree in Surgical Technology. Shanna has lived in Canton all her life. She enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends.

Julie Austin

Julie Austin

Last October, our office manager Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was discovered with her very first mammogram, as part of her annual physical. Julie has undergone three surgeries, with another planned for this fall. She also completed 2 months of radiation therapy, and is now beginning 12 weeks of chemotherapy. Julie will require some time off during her treatments, and you may notice her absence.

Julie asks us to remind you to schedule your annual physical, along with any labs and tests that are due. It might just save your life!

Office Reminders

WE ARE NOW TAKING NEW PATIENTS. We provide comprehensive care for infants, children and adults. If you know someone who needs a physician, please forward this Email or give them our phone number.

Be sure to notify our office if you have a new mailing address, phone number, or health insurance.

Please bring your medications to every visit. This helps us to give you the best medical care.

Medical Ethics and HIPAA law prevent us from releasing your health information without your permission. If you want your spouse or family member to have your information, you must give your written consent.

Office Hours

Our office hours are now 8:30-5pm Monday through Friday.  If there is low demand, we will close on Friday afternoon. When the office is closed, emergency care is available at the Urgent Care Centers and Mission Hospital ER.  Our answering service can be reached after hours at 251-4873.   Telephone calls are handled by Dr. Curran and his call partners.

  • Dr Curran will be on vacation and out of the office June 21 through 28. Our PA, Melissa will be here for patient care.
  • Pisgah Family Health will be closed July 4 & 5 for Independence Day.

Medical News

Breast Cancer

breast_cancer_illustration (30K)

Breast Cancer is common

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Only skin cancer is more common. Breast cancer is the second leading causes of cancer death among US women. Only lung cancer kills more women.

In 2009 (the most recent year numbers are available):

      211,731 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer.
      40,676 women in the United States died from breast cancer.

Screening Recommendations

The goal of screening is to detect breast cancer at its earliest stage, before it can spread or cause more harm. By detecting cancer early, when it is most treatable, proper screening reduces death and illness from cancer.

Breast self-exam: Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

Clinical breast exam: about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.

Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the US.) Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age. Source:

Know Your Risks

Research has found several risk factors that may increase your chances of getting breast cancer.

Risk Factors for breast cancer

  • Age over 40.
  • Personal history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
  • Family history of breast cancer.
  • Carrying the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
  • Receiving radiation therapy to the breast/chest.
  • Being overweight (increases risk for breast cancer after menopause).
  • Drinking alcohol (more than one drink a day).
  • Not getting regular exercise.
  • Using hormone-replacement therapy for 5+ years after menopause.

Risk Factors due to increased menstrual cycles

  • Being younger when you started having menstrual period.
  • Having menopause at a later age.
  • Being older at the birth of your first child.
  • Never giving birth.
  • Not breastfeeding.

Screening Tests

These tests are used by health care providers to screen for breast cancer:

Breast self-exams

Breast self-exams may be done by women or men to check their breasts for lumps or other changes. It is important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. If you feel any lumps or notice any other changes, see your doctor. Doing breast self-exams has not been shown to decrease the chance of dying from breast cancer.

Clinical breast exam

A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual. It is not known if having clinical breast exams decreases the chance of dying from breast cancer.


Mammography is the most common screening test for breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. This test can find tumors that are too small to feel. While women often feel breast lumps greater than 5mm in size, a mammogram can identify breast lumps as small as 1mm in size. Earlier detection leads to earlier treatment, and better outcomes for breast cancer.

Mammograms are less accurate in women younger than 50 years old, resulting in more false positive tests. This may be because younger women have denser breast tissue that appears white on a mammogram. Because tumors also appear white on a mammogram, they can be harder to find when there is dense breast tissue.

The following may affect whether a mammogram is able to detect (find) breast cancer:

  • The size of the tumor.
  • How dense the breast tissue is.
  • The skill of the radiologist.

Women aged 40 to 74 years who have screening mammograms and are diagnosed with breast cancer have a lower chance of dying from breast cancer than women who do not have screening mammograms.

Breast MRI

MRI is a procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). MRI does not use any x-rays.

MRIs find breast cancer more often than mammograms do, but MRI results often appear abnormal even when there isn't any cancer. MRI is used as a screening test for women who have a high risk of breast cancer, due to one or more of the following:

  • Certain gene changes, such as in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
  • A family history of first degree relatives with breast cancer.
  • Certain genetic syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni or Cowden syndrome.

Source: www.cancer.gov

Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cancer DNA

Colorectal cancer

Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these testing schedules:

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years, or
  • CT colonography every 5 years (often not covered by insurance), or
  • Fecal occult blood testing annually.

If you have certain risk factors, your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent screening. Risk factors include:

  • A family history of colon cancer or colon polyps
  • A personal history of colon polyps

For more information on colorectal cancer screening, please call the American Cancer Society and ask for our document called Colorectal Cancer: Early Detection.

Cervical cancer

Women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21, and 3 years after the first sexual intercourse. If a woman has never had intercourse, she does not need cervical cancer screening. If a woman has had her uterus removed, she does not need cervical cancer screening. Women who have had abnormal pap spears, or positive HPV tests, will require more frequent testing.

Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 2-3 years.

Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) every 3-5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.

Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results should stop being tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing continues past age 65.

A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for her age group.

Some women – because of their health history – may need to have a different screening schedule for cervical cancer.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is now the top cause of cancer death in America. While lung cancer is not the most common, it is the most deadly. Unfortunately, even early detection of lung cancer may not improve one's chances of survival. The best way to avoid lung cancer is to never smoke.

The American Cancer Society does not recommend screening for lung cancer in people who are at average risk of this disease. However, the ACS does have screening guidelines for individuals who are at high risk of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. If you meet all of the following criteria then you might be a candidate for screening:

  • 55 to 74 years of age
  • In fairly good health
  • Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years

Prostate cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer. Research has not yet proven that the benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. The American Cancer Society believes that men should not be tested without learning about what we know and don’t know about the risks and possible benefits of testing and treatment.

Starting at age 50, men should consider a digital rectal exam, and a PSA blood test. Frequency of testing will depend on their PSA level. Risk Factors for prostate cancer include

  • African American heritage
  • First degree relatives with prostate cancer before age 65.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common and most easily treatable of all cancers. Skin cancer can be detected by a simple skin exam, and by a skin biopsy. All adults should have a skin-cancer screening as part of their routine physical.

Skin cancer risk is directly related to ultraviolet light exposure, and includes:

  • Caucasian (white) skin type
  • Sunburns and prolonged sun exposure
  • Use of tanning beds
  • A personal history of skin cancer.

Endometrial (uterine) cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that at the time of menopause, all women should be told about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors.

Some women – because of their history – may need to consider having a yearly endometrial biopsy. Please talk with your doctor about your history.

Cancer-related check-ups

For people aged 20 or older having periodic health exams, a cancer-related check-up should include health counseling and, depending on a person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.

Take control of your health, and reduce your cancer risk.

  • Do not use tobacco.
  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Get moving with regular physical activity.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink.
  • Protect your skin from the sun.
  • Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
  • Have regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.

For information on how to reduce your cancer risk and other questions about cancer, please call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.

For additional information, visit www.cancer.gov/

Source: American Cancer Society

About our Newsletter

Dr. Curran and the staff at Pisgah Family Health are proud to publish the Pisgah Family Health News to our patients.  Our goal is to provide regularly updated information about the office and current medical topics.  We plan to publish a new issue each quarter with breaking news.  The newsletters will also be archived on our website, www.PisgahFamilyHealth.com/

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