The disease will be diagnosed in more than 5,000 women in Georgia this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
There were 469 cases of breast cancer in Cherokee in 2006, with 79 mortality cases, according to the latest figures the society has available.
Dr. Lynn Baxter, a radiologist and director of breast imaging at Northside Hospital-Cherokee, said based on her own experience, "we are seeing more and more patients."
Local doctors now are equipped, she said, with new equipment to improve the early detection of breast cancer, which is considered key to successfully fighting it.
The hospital has converted to digital mammography equipment, which she said is becoming more common, but not all medical facilities have made the switch.
Digital mammographies are like "comparing digital cameras to film cameras," she said.
"On a computer screen, we can magnify the image and change the light," she said, adding the technology makes it easier to see small calcium spots, often an early sign of breast cancer. "With the sharpness of the digital image, you can see those standing out."
Dr. Baxter said Magnetic Resonance Imaging is also being used more often. The MRI equipment means no radiation for the patient and it can detect what could be missed by a mammography or ultrasound.
She is one of 10 local female doctors who on Saturday will participate in The Second Breast Health & Cancer Awareness Day presented by the hospital and Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia - Cherokee County.
The free event open to all local women is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the NH-C Conference Center at 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton.
There will be panel discussions with the doctors on wellness and prevention, the latest treatment and technology and recent developments in breast cancer.
Northside Hospital's mammography van will also be onsite to perform mammograms by appointment, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.
A survivor program with a special butterfly release will take place, and attendees will learn about sharing their breast cancer story with StoryCorps Atlanta.
Dr. Baxter will be on the treatments and technology panel at Saturday's event along with Drs. Anita Johnson and Angela Robbins.
The panel on wellness and prevention will feature Drs. Angela Falany, Peahen Gandhi and Courtney Sinclair. Drs. Rosa Langella, Kathleen Long and Gena Volas-Redd will address "Recent Developments in Breast Cancer." Dr. Sandra Gregory, radiation oncologist of Radiotherapy Centers of Georgia - Cherokee County, is the event moderator.
Dr. Johnson of The Breast Care Team in Woodstock said for breast cancer treatment, the nipple-sparing mastectomy is becoming more common.
In the procedure, the breast tissue in the nipple area is removed. The remaining tissue is reconstructed back to the skin of the breast.
Patients "love it," she said about the procedure. "They still look like themselves."
As a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Gandhi with Cherokee Women's Health Specialists said she is at the "front gate" of the fight against breast cancer.
Simple ways of reducing the odds of developing breast cancer, she said, include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and having routine mammograms.
Her patients are becoming more educated about breast cancer, she said, thanks in part to celebrities such as actress Christina Applegate speaking out about the disease.
"Patients come and see me, and they are asking questions," she said. "[Patients] are using the media, the Internet, the television. They are using a number of resources to educate themselves."
For information about Saturday's conference, call Toni Karasik at (678) 965-4756, ext. 115 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a mammogram appointment at the event, call (404) 845-5555 then press 0.