October always reminds us of breast cancer since it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit on the subject. Educating communities and sharing the best possible practices about this illness is imperative.
It allows people to avoid this disease and detect it early on, making it more manageable and treatable. Breast cancer is the second biggest cause of death among women, and spotting it early increases survival rates drastically.
We will share some of the best ways of detecting breast cancer. Remember that it’s important to examine yourself regularly and pay attention to what’s happening with your body if you want to maintain good health.
How does breast cancer manifest?
Breast cancer manifests due to the excessive growth of cells within the breast. There are several types of breast cells in our body, each of which can grow into a different breast cancer type. However, most start in lobules, milk glands, or breast ducts, which are the pathways for milk to the nipple.
Medically speaking, these two are called “invasive lobular carcinoma” and “invasive ductal carcinoma.” However, there are many other less common breast cancer types like ductal carcinoma in situ and inflammatory breast cancer.
Even though it commonly develops in women, men can also get it, so don’t think you shouldn’t check yourself if you’re a guy. Many factors lead to breast cancer, including inherited genes, reproductive history, menopause, hormones, menstruation, etc.
Examine yourself regularly
Your health starts with you, and it’s essential to do monthly self-exams so you can detect any warnings early on. If you’ve never done self-exams, here are a couple of things you need to do:
- Stand in front of a mirror and visually examine your breasts. Look for damaged skin texture, like abnormalities, indentations, or dimpling;
- Raise your arms high and look for skin texture changes or damages;
- Lay on your back and examine your breasts by hand to check for any lumps. Check the armpit area that connects to your breasts as well.
Don’t panic if you notice a lump or damaged skin texture. Many women develop all kinds of cysts or lumps that are entirely harmless. However, visit your doctor to go through tests and medical exams to determine what kind of lump it is.
Go to the doctor regularly
Women should get an annual exam, including a breast exam, pelvic exam, and pap smear. It’s also an excellent opportunity to talk to your doctor about potential issues and changes, get clarification, and discuss wellness options, family health history, and your current health concerns.
Tell the doctor if you’ve made drastic lifestyle changes affecting your whole body. On the other hand, share your concerns during your exam if you notice any signs potentially related to breast cancer.
Keep in mind that many things can be confused with breast cancer, including:
- Fat necrosis
You should get a mammogram before determining whether you have breast cancer.
Get a mammogram test
Mammogram tests are the most reliable option for detecting breast cancer. These tests make it possible to detect developing cancer years before it forms into a mass. In other words, hand exams can help you find developed cancer that’s grown into a mass but not before it.
A mammogram test is a weaker x-ray, and it’s completely painless and non-invasive, meaning you shouldn’t be scared of getting one. How often you get a mammogram test depends on many factors, including medical history, current health, and age.
People between the age of 40 to 50 should get a mammogram exam every three years. Women 50 to 70+ should get tested every two years. But there’s no need to stick to this schedule if you feel there’s something wrong. It’s always a good idea to clear doubts and be sure nothing’s happening.
Get screening tests when necessary
If you get a mammogram test and you get abnormal results, you will have to do some follow-up tests to determine the cause of the results, type of cancer, size, etc. Here are some of the screening tests you can do:
- Biopsy: if there’s a potentially cancerous lump, your doctor will have to get a biopsy sample and test it to get the exact information about its properties and origin;
- MRI scan: an MRI scan is one of the most common tests doctors order when looking for cancer, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer;
- Ultrasound test: doctors can order an ultrasound to see if the abnormal results of the mammogram are a cancerous mass or a benign cyst.
Breast cancer is highly treatable if caught early, so don’t worry, even if you get it at some point in your life. The most important thing is to keep track of your health so you can spot it in a timely manner. People who discover it in its early stages cure cancer more quickly.