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How Do I Get Checked For Breast Cancer

How Effective Are Screening Mammograms

Get Tested for Breast Cancer

Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early. But they are not perfect tests. Mammograms may miss some breast cancers. Also, some cancers develop in the time between screens. However, many studies have shown that regular mammograms reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Some breast cancers that are diagnosed through screening may never cause symptoms in a woman during her lifetime . Therefore, some women may have surgery or treatment for a breast cancer that would not have become life threatening.

Not all cancers found at screening can be treated successfully.

To learn more about what happens during a mammogram and how to get ready for a mammogram, see the Mammogram FAQs.

How Does The Doctor Know I Have Breast Cancer

A change seen on your mammogram may be the first sign of breast cancer. Or you may have found a lump or other change in your breast.

The doctor will ask you questions about your health and will do a physical exam. A breast exam is done to look for changes in the nipples or the skin of your breasts. The doctor will also check the lymph nodes under your arm and above your collarbone. Swollen or hard lymph nodes might mean breast cancer has spread there.

If signs are pointing to breast cancer, more tests will be done. Here are some of the tests you may need:

Mammogram: This is an x-ray of the breast. Mammograms are mostly used to find breast cancer early. But another mammogram might be done to look more closely at the breast problem you might have.

MRI scan: MRIs use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays to make detailed pictures. MRIs can be used to learn more about the size of the cancer and look for other tumors in the breast.

Breast ultrasound: For this test, a small wand is moved around on your skin. It gives off sound waves and picks up the echoes as they bounce off tissues. The echoes are made into a picture that you can see on a computer screen. Ultrasound can help the doctor see if a lump is a fluid-filled cyst , or if it’s a tumor that could be cancer.

Nipple discharge exam: If you have fluid coming from your nipple, some of it may be sent to a lab. There, it will be checked to see if there are cancer cells in it.

Screening Letters Sent To The Public

Cancer Care Ontario sends letters to women turning 50 inviting them to get screened for breast cancer through the Ontario Breast Screening Program. Women ages 51 to 73 who have not been screened in at least 3 years also receive a letter inviting them to get screened.

We also send letters to women ages 50 to 74 reminding them when it is time to return for screening and informing them of their results, if they are normal.

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Should I Check My Testicles

Its a good idea to know what your testicles usually look and feel like, and to be aware of their normal size and weight. This can make it easier to spot unusual changes, which you should always let your doctor know about.

But theres no need to worry about regularly self-checking at a set time or in a set way. There is no specific self-checking method that has overall proven benefits.

How Much Does Brca Testing Cost

New breast cancer bra worn during radiotherapy

It may also be possible to receive genetic counseling and undergo testing as part of a research study. At-home genetic testing that includes BRCA1 and BRCA2 costs around $200 to $300. However, these tests typically only detect three BRCA mutations out of the more than 1000 which have been identified.

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What Are Brca1 And Brca2

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that produce proteins that help repair damaged DNA. Everyone has two copies of each of these genesone copy inherited from each parent. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sometimes called tumor suppressor genes because when they have certain changes, called harmful variants , cancer can develop.

People who inherit harmful variants in one of these genes have increased risks of several cancersmost notably breast and ovarian cancer, but also several additional types of cancer. People who have inherited a harmful variant in BRCA1 and BRCA2 also tend to develop cancer at younger ages than people who do not have such a variant.

A harmful variant in BRCA1 or BRCA2 can be inherited from either parent. Each child of a parent who carries any mutation in one of these genes has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. Inherited mutationsalso called germline mutations or variantsare present from birth in all cells in the body.

Even if someone has inherited a harmful variant in BRCA1 or BRCA2 from one parent, they would have inherited a normal copy of that gene from the other parent . But the normal copy can be lost or change in some cells in the body during that persons lifetime. Such a change is called a somatic alteration. Cells that dont have any functioning BRCA1 or BRCA2 proteins can grow out of control and become cancer.

Can I Rely On Breast Self

Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. But when combined with regular medical care and appropriate guideline-recommended mammography, breast self-exams can help women know what is normal for them so they can report any changes to their healthcare provider.If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but dont panic 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.

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Why Breast Cancer Screening Matters

The sooner breast cancer gets diagnosed, the better your odds of getting successful treatment.

That’s why itâs important to get mammograms as recommended, to be familiar with how your breasts usually look, and to report any changes to your doctor ASAP. Why?

  • Breast cancer risk is up: The lifetime risk of a woman getting breast cancer in the U.S. was around 5%, or 1 in 20, in 1940. Now itâs 12%, or more than 1 in 8.
  • Finding breast cancer earlier boosts your survival odds: Women who have breast cancer screening mammograms are much less likely to die from the disease. This depends on:
  • The quality of the test
  • Getting screened as often as you need to
  • Following your treatment plan if you get diagnosed

With Insights Into The Effect Of Breast Cancer On Black Women

Get yourself checked for breast cancer

This article is part of Breast Cancer and Black Women, a destination in our Health Divide series.

A diagnosis of breast cancer is life-changing, but it doesnt have to be life-threatening.

While breast cancer can be deadly for all women if not diagnosed at an early stage, people have remarkable outcomes when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Compared to White women, Black women are less often diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, when it’s highly treatable. They also more often receive a diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that requires urgent treatment.

Early detection and prevention are the keys to turning these statistics around.

This article will discuss the role of mammograms, self-examinations, ultrasounds, and other tests in the diagnosis of breast cancer and provide insights into the effect of breast cancer on Black women.

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What Is A Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms use a very low level of x-rays, which are a type of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation is very low.

Mammograms can be used to screen for breast cancer in women with no signs or symptoms. They can also help doctors figure out if cancer is causing a particular symptom like a lump or another change in the breast.

When you get a mammogram, a technician will place your breast between 2 plastic plates and press it flat to get a clear picture. Getting a mammogram can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last long.

How Do I Do A Breast Self

If you choose to do one, follow these steps:

In the mirror:

  • Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. If they arenât equal in size or shape, thatâs OK! Most women’s breasts aren’t. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any breast skin changes. Look for any puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration.
  • Check your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change in their direction.
  • Place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can look at the outer part of your breasts.
  • Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in their shape or contour.
  • Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portions. Remember to look at the border underneath them. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see it.
  • Check your nipples for discharge fluid. Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
  • In the shower:

  • Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
  • Lying down:

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    Anyone Can Be Affected By Breast Cancer

    Around 6,000 women aged 45 or younger are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year. Read their stories.

    Many people dont know that men can get breast cancer because they dont think of men as having breasts. But men do have a small amount of breast tissue. Listen to Tony’s podcast, on being a man with breast cancer.

    Many different things can affect your chances of getting breast cancer. It results from a combination of the way we live our lives, our genes, and our environment. Find out about the causes of breast cancer.

    Its only since transitioning that Ive really paid much attention to the importance of checking my breasts. Its not really something that gets talked about much in the trans community, but it really should be.

    – Sarah

    There Are Many Reasons Why We May Not Check Our Breasts

    How often do you get your breast checked for breast cancer ...

    Checking your breasts only takes a few minutes and everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes. Whether it’s in the bath, shower or before going to bed, checking for signs and symptoms is as easy as TLC.

    Building new habits can take time. Checking as part of your self care routine, setting a reminder on your phone or making a note on your calendar can help.

    You might feel scared to check, but remember: the sooner breast cancer is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Find out about what to look and feel for.

    There is stigma, too, because we are talking about breasts. In some communities, you dont speak about these things. You dont speak about cancer. But not talking about it doesnt stop people from getting it.

    – Bami

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    At What Age Should I Start Getting Mammograms

    Because young women typically have dense breast tissue, a mammogram is not always the best diagnostic tool for them. For this reason, and because dense breasts also make it more difficult to feel a lump, it is crucial that women aged 20 and older become familiar with their breasts and learn how to spot any unusual changes. Current guidelines call for annual screening mammograms to begin at age 45 or 50. If you have a family history of the disease, consult your doctor about when you should start having mammograms and how frequently you should have them. For more information, read our position paper on the new mammography guidelines.

    Why Is The Mortality Rate Of Breast Cancer Higher For Black Women

    While Black women and White women get breast cancer at about the same rate, Black women are 40% more likely to die from the disease. There are many factors that contribute to breast cancer disparities, ranging from social determinants to genetics to tumor biology, but one mysterious phenomenon stands out: Black women are twice as likely to have triple-negative breast cancer, a rarer but more aggressive form that does not respond to hormonal treatment, making it difficult to treat.

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    If You Have Breast Implants

    Mammograms are safe and effective for women with implants, but it may be harder to read the results. If you can, find a mammography center where the technologists and radiologists have experience doing mammograms for women with breast implants. Let your technologist know you have implants before your exam. They can position the machine and your breast to get the best image of your natural tissue. Four views of each breast will be taken .

    Testing For Proteins And Genes


    The breast cancer cells will be tested for certain proteins called estrogen and progesterone receptors. If the cancer has these proteins, it’s called a hormone receptor positive breast cancer. The cells are also tested to see if the cancer makes too much of the HER2 protein. If it does, it’s called a HER2-positive cancer. These cancers are sometimes easier to treat. If the cancer doesn’t test positive for any of these proteins, it’s called a triple-negative breast cancer.

    The cells might also be tested for certain genes, which can help decide if chemo might be helpful and how likely it is that the cancer will come back. Ask your doctor to explain the tests they plan to do, and what the results might mean.

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    There Are Ways To Find Low

    If you dont have health insurance, dont assume that means you cant get screened. There may be more ways to get good, affordable health care than you think. Each October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many mammography centers offer mammograms at reduced rates. Year round, there are organizations working to help women get screened whatever their financial and insurance status.

    Getting screened for breast cancer is a crucial part of breast healthbut its not enough on its own. Heres everything you should know to take charge of your breast health.

    Breast Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Breast

    The breast is made up of lobes and ducts. Each breast has 15 to 20 sections called lobes, which have many smaller sections called lobules. Lobules end in dozens of tiny bulbs that can produce milk. The lobes, lobules, and bulbs are linked by thin tubes called ducts.

    Each breast also has blood vessels and lymph vessels. The lymph vessels carry an almost colorless, watery fluid called lymph. Lymph vessels carry lymph between lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fightinfection and disease. Groups of lymph nodes are found near the breast in theaxilla , above thecollarbone, and in the chest.

    See the following PDQ summaries for more information about breast cancer:

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    Check Yourself For Male Breast Cancer

    How to Check Yourself for Male Breast Cancer Male Breast Self-Exam

    1. Check each breast one at a time.

    2. Use your right hand fingers to check

    your left breast, and your left hand

    fingers to check your right breast.

    3. With your fingers flat against the

    breast press firmly in small, clockwise circles.

    4. Start at the outermost top edge of your breast

    and spiral towards the nipple.

    5. Feel for hard lumps or bumps in your breast.

    6. Be certain to cover all parts of your breast.

    7. Gently squeeze both nipples and look for any discharge.

    8. Look carefully for changes in the size, shape,

    and contour of each breast, e.g., puckering,

    dimpling, or changes in skin texture.When is the best time to perform the MBSE?

    During or right after a warm shower or bath

    Warm, soapy water relaxes and smoothes the skin,

    making the MBSE easier to perform

    Remember to do the MBSE once a month

    What are the symptoms?

    A hard, painless lump in the breast tissue

    Pain in the breast

    Redness or scaling of the nipple or breast skin

    Discharge from the nipple

    However, remember that most breast lumps in men are due to gynecomastia and not cancer.


    1. Are you between the ages of 10 and 25 and have swelling under the nipple? Hormone changes of adolescence may bring about GYNECOMASTIA, benign swelling of the male breast. Gynecomastia is usually benign and lasts for a few months. See your doctor if youre concerned or if the mass keeps growing.

    Imaging Tests Have Risks And Costs

    Breast Cancer Awareness

    The biggest risk is that imaging tests expose you to radiation. The effects of radiation add up over your lifetime and can increase your risk of cancer.

    Imaging tests can also show a false positive. This means a test shows something unusual, but after more testing, is not a problem. False positives can lead to stress, more tests, and a delay in getting needed treatment.

    Imaging tests can also add thousands of dollars to your treatment costs. Not all insurance companies pay for them for early-stage breast cancer.

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