Breast Cancer Awareness Month
From our Making Strides for Breast Cancer event on 10/21, to the on-air tips and information we provide, WJBR is putting all our energy toward a world with more birthdays, and less cancer.
American Cancer Society recommendations for finding breast cancer early
The ACS recommends the following guidelines for finding breast cancer early in women without symptoms:
Mammogram: Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should keep on doing so for as long as they are in good health. While mammograms can miss some cancers, they are still a very good way to find breast cancer.
Clinical breast exam: Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a health expert at least every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health expert every year. It might be a good idea to have the CBE shortly before the mammogram. You can use the exam to learn what your own breasts look and feel like.
Breast self-exam (BSE): BSE is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any changes in how their breasts look or feel to a health expert right away.
Research has shown that BSE plays a small role in finding breast cancer compared with finding a breast lump by chance or simply being aware of what is normal for each woman. If you decide to do BSE, you should have your doctor or nurse check your method to make sure you are doing it right. If you do BSE on a regular basis, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Then you can more easily notice changes. But it's OK not to do BSE or not to do it on a fixed schedule.
The goal, with or without BSE, is to see a doctor right away if you notice any of these changes: a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk. But remember that most of the time these breast changes are not cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Women at high risk should get an MRI and a mammogram every year (women who are at high risk have at least a 25% lifetime risk of breast cancer). Women at moderately increased risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
The widespread use of screening mammograms has increased the number of breast cancers found before they cause any symptoms, but some are still missed.
The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A lump that is painless, hard, and has uneven edges is more likely to be cancer. But some cancers are tender, soft, and rounded. So it's important to have anything unusual checked by a doctor.
Other signs of breast cancer include the following:
· Swelling of all or part of the breast
· Skin irritation or dimpling
· Breast pain
· Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
· Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
· A nipple discharge other than breast milk
Sometimes breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.
If you have any symptoms that might be a sign of breast cancer, be sure see a doctor as soon as you can. For more information, please visit the American Cancer Society website.