HAMLIN — Charles Vance has practiced medicine in Lincoln County for more than 40 years.
Vance said his extensive career has allowed him to see the landscape of the medical field change to focus more on preventive measures, such as mammograms and self-screening.
“We monitor different aspects of preventive care, and one of those is whether people are getting their mammograms done and they’re following up with their doctors and things like that,” Vance said. “We’ve done that for years. Having started back in 1981, we didn’t focus as much on preventive care as we do now. Of course we know our patients have a lot better outcome if we kind of help them monitor when they get these tests done. It’s been shown statistically to decrease the instances of morbidity and mortality associated with breast cancer.”
Vance, who also serves as a county commissioner, has been vocal about the need to take precautions against COVID-19. However, he also said the pandemic should not cause people to put their regular check-ups and screenings on the back burner.
“I’m big on our COVID cases and things,” Vance said. “But the thing I want to emphasize is that even though we have this pandemic now going around, you still need to have your check-ups as they were before instead of putting them off and waiting for things to calm down with the pandemic. Sometimes that can put you at an increased risk of when the cancer is found, it being more advanced. You want to get these things early. Just like with other cancers, with breast cancer one of the main predictors of a good outcome is how quickly you get to the diagnosis and either have surgery, radiation or chemo.”
Vance said he has treated both male and female breast cancer patients throughout his career, and that the signs in both genders are often the same.
“I’ve had a few male patients who have had breast cancer,” Vance said. “It’s something that I think as far as our preventive medicine when we talk to people about it, we always try to mention that that’s something whether you are male or female. If you develop a lump in your breast, or if you notice one breast getting a lot larger than the other — especially in men, that’s usually what we see is a problem with asymmetry of the breasts. It is something that men need to be aware of. Most of the focus on breast cancer is usually directed at the women.”
Vance said individuals should keep an eye on their bodies and reach out to their physician anytime they notice abnormal changes.
“We have different handouts as far as how to do breast exams,” Vance said. “If you find a lump, increased temperature or caking of the breast or something of that nature get it checked out. We always tell our patients that if anything new develops that bothers you, get in touch with a physician and let them check it out and see what needs to be done.”
Vance emphasized the importance of catching any type of cancer early to increase the chances of a good outcome.
“It’s always good to catch these things early instead of late,” Vance said. “Men or women have a tendency to put off their regular check-ups and things of that nature, and that’s something you don’t want to do especially if you have a family history of breast cancer or have had problems with your breasts before. You always want to make sure you do your follow-ups and get your mammograms.”