Performing a breast self-examination once each month plays an important role in catching any aberrations before they can develop into a more serious condition. While the self-exam is primarily intended to catch early signs of breast cancer, it can also help with the early detection of breast cysts and other medical conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend having a mammogram performed by a trained physician every year after the age of 40.
If you notice a lump, a change in texture or anything else abnormal with one or both of your breasts, you need to schedule a breast cancer screening as soon as possible. The diagnostic process may include a few important tests.
Our doctor might start with a clinical breast exam to express the area by hand, noting any lumps. Be sure to let us know about any other symptoms you are experiencing such as tenderness, fever, a change in the nipple, or swelling in any of the nearby lymph nodes. You should also note any family history for cancer.
If there is anything amiss, our doctor will likely need to perform a mammogram or breast MRI.
A mammogram is essentially a special type of soft tissue X-Ray. It is designed to note areas of abnormal tissue density, fluid accumulations and other anomalies in the breast tissues.
A breast MRI uses magnetic resonance to create a detailed image of the breast tissues. It is often performed in conjunction with a mammogram for women who are considered at high-risk for developing breast cancer.
In some of these cases, our doctor might also want to perform additional diagnostics such as drawing blood to test for specific protein markers associated with the presence of cancer. A direct biopsy might be needed to sample and examine suspicious areas of breast tissue.
Our doctor can help you understand the need for any other tests and answer your questions. If we find indicators for breast cancer our doctor will likely refer you to an oncologist or another specialist to further confirm the diagnosis and start the treatment process.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here in the month of October, and it is an important reminder to women everywhere to check for any signs of breast cancer. Speak to your healthcare provider about your risks and the best screening plan for you. If you are reaching the age of 40, this is when you want to get your first annual mammogram. If you are in your twenties, be sure to start looking for any changes in your breasts.
With early detection, breast cancer treatment and survival rates are very high. If you have noticed anything out of the ordinary during your monthly breast self-exam, please reach out to our team to set up a breast cancer screening at our clinic. We are happy to help you get the care you need and deserve.