You may notice an abundance of pink ribbons this time of year. That’s because it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a good reminder to consider your breast health and do what you can to prevent breast cancer.
Learn warning signs of breast cancer
While breast cancer can produce no symptoms at all, there are some things to watch for. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include a lump in the breast; changes in your breast, such as an inverted nipple or dimpling; discomfort; and nipple discharge. You may also feel swollen lymph nodes.
Make it a habit to do a self-exam to check for lumps. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. In the shower or while lying down, move around your entire breast in circular motion from the outside to the center. Squeeze your nipple and check for discharge. Also check your armpit areas.
Schedule a 3D mammogram at MRH
According to the American Cancer Society, women age 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year, and women 55 and older can opt for mammograms every two years, if desired.
When you receive a mammogram, you want to know that your results provide the clearest picture possible. No one wants to get the call that you need to go in for a second look, even if most callbacks do not result in cancer. To ensure the clearest, most detailed picture, MRH’s Diagnostic Imaging Department offers a Philips 3D mammography, or tomosynthesis.
3D mammography has been described as a CAT scan of the breast, as it takes several X-rays at different angles to create a 3D image. It has many advantages over standard mammography. It has been found to catch aggressive cancers earlier, generate fewer callbacks and false alarms and ensure women receive the lowest dose of radiation possible. It’s also better for viewing dense breast tissue and fibrocystic breasts.
Diagnosed with breast cancer? What’s next?
If you know anyone who has had breast cancer, you likely know it brings a series of decisions, as with any cancer diagnosis. What you might not know is that treatment choices are unique for every woman.
Options differ, depending on the size of the tumor, its location, if it’s early or late-stage and if there is lymph node involvement, among others. Women choose between a lumpectomy or mastectomy. With a lumpectomy, only the portion of the breast that contains the tumor and surrounding tissue are taken. A mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. Radiation and chemotherapy may follow. Finally, a woman can choose reconstruction, an option that’s a federally mandated right and one most insurance companies must honor.
Memorial Regional Health offers annual health and wellness exams, pelvic exams and several solutions to women’s health concerns. Schedule a mammogram during October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and receive a discount.