Local program promotes early diagnosis

Amanda Fredericks

Amanda Fredericks

Keysville- area resident Amanda Fredericks credits a local Department of Public Health program with making sure her health issues didn’t fall through the cracks.

Fredericks was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 39. A mammogram caught the disease early after she brought a problem with a lymph node to her family practitioner’s attention.

“The node was swollen because of the breast cancer,” she said.

There is a family history of the disease which affects 12.9% of all women born in the United States, according to cancer.gov. Frederick’s grandmother, sister and aunt battled the disease.

Twenty-four weeks of two kinds of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments successfully left Fredericks with no sign of the cancer. She was told the cancer had a high reoccurrence rate after three years. She was also at a higher risk for ovarian cancer since she carried the breast cancer 1 gene.

Breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) genes are the genes most commonly affected in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes protect someone from getting cancer, but mutations in the genes can prevent them working properly. When a woman inherits those mutations, the likelihood of them getting breast, ovarian or other cancers is increased.



The insurance program that covered her breast cancer expired in 2015. In order to maintain regular screenings, Frederick participated in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP) through the Burke County DPH.

“It’s been the same group of ladies since I started going in 2016 and they are all really good about keeping up with me and they know me by name,” Fredericks said.

In December 2020 the disease reappeared. It was caught in an early stage through a regular mammogram. The tumor in her breast was small enough to be removed through the biopsy process. She received chemo treatments again as a precaution. A CT scan in December will tell her where she stands.

“It was caught extremely early this time,” Fredericks said. “It was caught earlier than it was in 2010.”

Fredericks says the local BCCP program staff goes out of their way to answer questions and assist their clientele. Currently, the resource is under-utilized and the number of participants decreased even more during the pandemic.

“Don’t hesitate to go and let them help you,” Frederick said. “They are a great group of people who go above and beyond.”

According to the CDC, “254,744 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, and more than 42,465 women died of it. For the last 10 years, the rate of new breast cancer cases has increased. Death rates have been going down, but disparities persist. The rate of new breast cancer cases is highest among non-Hispanic White women, but death rates are highest among Black women. To help catch breast cancer early, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 50 to 74 who are at average risk of breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women aged 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.”

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