October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Laura Lawson, medical director of the Saint Thomas Health Services Breast Cancer Program, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss early diagnosis and treatments. View her episode clip here.

A common misconception of breast cancer is that it’s a death sentence. Dr. Lawson wants women to know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Breast cancer cases diagnosed at stage zero or stage one have a five-year survival rate of approximately 100 percent. Cases diagnosed at stage two have a survival rate of almost 90 percent. And cases diagnosed at stage three have a survival rate of around 75 percent. Clearly, early detection is key.

As a leader in breast cancer care, Saint Thomas advocates for early detection and offers many programs to help women access resources, including mobile mammography units. Its program is one of the largest breast cancer programs in the state, treating one-fourth of all breast cancers diagnosed or treated in Tennessee.

It’s also important to note that not all breast abnormalities should be a source of alarm. Many common problems including redness, nipple discharge, density of breast tissue or even presence of a tumor can be benign and harmless. But the best rule of thumb is to take note of anything out of the ordinary and get it checked out.

It’s recommended women begin having mammograms at age 40 and then continue to get checked once a year after that. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your yearly mammograms should start 10 years before the youngest age that a family member was diagnosed.

For more information on breast cancer detection or treatment, visit STHealth.com or call 615-284-PINK.

One in four women will experience domestic violence at some time in their lives. Pat Shea, chief executive officer of YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss MEND, a program to end violence against women and children. View her episode clip here.

In our country, three women each day die at the hands of a man who says he loves her and one in five women will experience rape or sexual assault. In Tennessee, women are three times more likely to be victimized than men. And in Nashville, one report of domestic violence takes place every 20 minutes.

The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee has been helping women, girls and families for more than 100 years. MEND is a new primary prevention initiative dedicated to ending violence against women and girls by engaging and educating men and boys.

Specifically, the MEND program invites men to join the conversation of domestic violence because while men are the primary perpetrators, the vast majority of men are not violent. MEND is engaging good men, including coaches, clergy, corporate CEOs and celebrities, to serve as positive role models in violence prevention. They are educated and equipped with hands-on tools to teach young boys to be kind, caring and respectful by changing mentalities, language and behaviors.

If someone is interested in learning more or becoming a MEND coach, call 615-269-9922, visit MENDUSA.org or email mend@ywcanashville.com.For any woman or girl who is in a violent situation and needs help right now, calling the YWCA’s crisis and support helpline is the first step toward safety and healing: 800-334-4628.


U.S. women have a one in eight lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. Daveisha Moore, director of mission and education of Komen Central Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss disparities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and mortality. View her segment here.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is estimated that in 2016, more than 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer except for lung cancer.
Susan G. Komen’s mission is to decrease breast cancer deaths by 50 percent in the next 10 years. One-third of current deaths could have been prevented by an earlier diagnosis. Komen Central Tennessee, which serves 25 counties in middle Tennessee, aims to address the disparity between diagnosis and treatment by educating women.
Some women delay getting a mammography screening due to fear, lack of access to care, cultural and language differences, lack of childcare or an inability to take time off work. Komen is breaking down these barriers by teaching signs and symptoms and connecting people to resources in the community.
If you notice any of the physical signs and symptoms of breast cancer, such as redness, swelling, nipple discharge or lumps in the breast tissue, consult a physician.
For more information on breast cancer, visit KomenCentralTennessee.org or call (615) 383-0017.

Did you know the next generation of seniors is predicted to have 25 percent higher prevalence of obesity and 55 percent higher prevalence of diabetes? United Healthcare’s Dr. Karen Cassidy joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss important findings from America’s Health Rankings and its 2016 Senior Report, and how we can use them to take small steps toward better health. View her interview here.

America’s Health Rankings is the longest-running annual assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state basis. It is an actionable report that gives a holistic view of the nation and allows each state to see areas of opportunity for improving the health of its citizens. America’s Health Rankings is the result of a partnership between the United Health Foundation and other organizations.
The Senior Report focuses on the health of older Americans – and serves to drive individuals and organizations to take action to improve senior health. It analyzes 35 individual measures of health, such as smoking rates, prevalence of diabetes, obesity rates, availability of physicians, food insecurity and flu vaccination coverage.

Tennessee’s overall rank for 2016 is 43 out of the 50 states, which is an improvement of one place compared to last year’s senior health rankings. The report also illuminates many Tennessee-specific measures where our state excels and where it needs to improve.

The positive:

  • Low prevalence of excessive drinking (No. 1 in the nation)
  • A significant improvement in the obesity rate of our seniors (No. 5 in the nation, up from No. 34 last year)
  • High vaccination coverage (No. 6)

The negative:

  • High prevalence of smoking (No. 49)
  • High prevalence of frequent mental distress (No. 49)
  • High rate of food insecurity (No. 46) and limited availability of home-delivered meals (No. 48)

Looking to the future, this year’s Senior Report examined middle-aged Americans who will become seniors over the next 14 years and how their health challenges will impact our future senior population. In comparing today’s middle-aged population to their peers of 1999, it revealed the senior population of 2030 will:

  • Smoke 50% less
  • Have 54% increased prevalence of diabetes; and
  • 25% increased prevalence of obesity

Based on these finding, the report shows us we need to focus on weight by eating balanced, nutritious diets and being as physically active as possible. There is a direct correlation between preventable chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain types of cancer. Also, we need to create a sense of community for our seniors to combat the growing prevalence of mental health issues.

If you would like to view the America’s Health Rankings reports in their entirety, visit AmericasHealthRankings.org. If you’re looking for a great resource for improving the health of yourself and your family, visit the state’s Healthier Tennessee website at HealthierTN.com.

Did you know the next generation of seniors is predicted to have 25% higher prevalence of obesity? Dr. Karen Cassidy from UnitedHealthcare is here to explain how Tennessee fared in the 2016 Americas Health Rankings Senior Report and how we can start living a healthier lifestyle, today.