October is more than just Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it's also time to bring awareness to what happens to someone who has been diagnosed and going through treatments.
Treatment for breast cancer often causes menopause to start or the treatment medications cause really low levels of estrogen in the blood. This causes women to suffer from symptoms of menopause, or low estrogen including hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, sleep disturbance, low sex drive, and vaginal dryness, pain with intercourse, and bladder urgency and leaking.
Dr. Diana Bitner, a nationally recognized menopause health specialist from Spectrum Health, says suffering through symptoms and treatments isn't necessary. Thanks to medical facilities like Spectrum Health, they can teach women about options for screening and treatment. Treatment options should consider the risk of breast cancer recurrence, the amount of bother form the symptoms, the effect of prior treatments, and personal choice.
The first step is to talk about the symptoms, and it is important we all take this on. Women deserve answers and healthcare providers need to at least acknowledge the problem and refer to a specialist if not in the comfort zone.
The next step for patients is to go through their story in detail with their health care provider and understand how much the symptoms are bothering them. Daily habits of water and caffeine intake, medications, and other aspects of health such as what type of cancer, the likelihood of recurrence, along with fitness and bone health.
Treatment for GSM has to be individualized, and especially for women with a low risk of recurrence, with breast cancer negative for estrogen receptors, or with very distressing symptoms leading to poor quality of life.
The bottom line is suffering is not necessary, and help is available at Spectrum Health.
To set up an appointment with Dr. Bitner or her staff, call (616)267-8520. Their office is located at 3800 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Suite A., Grand Rapids.
Learn more about healthy living and women's health on her blog.