Breast Cancer: Early Detection is Key (Repost from 2017)

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Did you know 1 in 8 women born today will face the diagnosis of breast cancer in their lifetime? Breast cancer is the number #2 cancer in women today. Yet, there is reason to celebrate because more women survive breast cancer…the key is early detection and treatment. The best way to detect breast cancer early is regular mammograms.

A mammogram is a low dose x-ray which looks for changes in the breast which are not normal. There are 3 types of mammography tests: film, digital, and 3D mammography, also known as tomosynthesis or “tomo.” One large study found that film and digital, published in 2015 in the American Journal of Radiology, reviewed over 3 million screening mammograms performed in the US, found that the two methods are equivalent. 3D mammography provides images of the breast in “slices” from many different angles, finding abnormalities and determining which abnormalities may be important may be easier with 3D tests. On the other hand, 3D mammography is more expensive than 2D, and your insurance may charge you more if you use 3D.

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Health professionals give the following recommendations for mammograms:

· Women aged 40-49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often

· Women 50-74, have a mammogram every two years

· Discuss with your doctor about family history of breast or ovarian cancer, especially if a close family member

Prepare a list of questions when you visit the doctor. Write them down. Take a family member or close friend to take notes.

Here are some sample questions:

· Do I have risk factor for breast cancer?

· Based on my risk factor, what are my chances of getting breast cancer?

· What will happen when I go to get a mammogram?

· How long will it take to get results of my mammogram?

· If I don’t’ hear back about the mammogram results, should I call office?

A good way to find a change in the breast between mammograms is breast self-exams (BSE). However, a BSE should not take the place of routine clinical breast exams and mammograms.

When completing a BSE remember breast can experience change during the following:

· Pregnancy

· Aging

· Menopause

· Menstrual Cycles

· Birth Control Pills

· Hormones

It is even normal for breast to feel a little lumpy and uneven. At times, breast can be swollen and/or tender right before or during a menstrual period. Notify your doctor of any unusual changes in your breast.

Remember when it comes to surviving breast cancer the key is early detection. Contact your Doctor and discuss scheduling a mammogram during National Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Reference: Mammograms Questions for the Doctor. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Accessed at:

Accessed on: September 27, 2017

Reference: Mammograms. Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Accessed at:

Accessed on: September 27, 2017

Reference Photo One: Breast Cancer Awareness

Accessed at:

Accessed on October 3, 2018

Reference Photo Two: Think Pink Breast Cancer Graphic

Accessed at:

Accessed on October 3, 2018.

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