The Importance Of Early Detection
Mammograms can detect breast cancer in the earliest stages and often before anything feels abnormal in the breast. But that doesnt mean it’s not important and helpful to perform regular breast self-exams at home. In fact, approximately 40% of women detected their breast cancer this way.
Early detection of breast cancer is important clinical evidence has shown that early treatment can improve chances of survival. In addition, an early diagnosis often translates to a shorter, easier treatment course. For example, surgery and radiation can sometimes treat a small tumor without the need for chemotherapy that some later-stage tumors may require.
Self-exams are a great tool to help with early detection. But they shouldnt be used alone. Its important to make sure youre getting your mammograms in addition to performing self-exams.
Screening For Breast Cancer:
Screenings are done to look for breast cancer before the symptoms appear. It is of great importance as normally by the time symptoms develop, cancer has already progressed to an advanced stage. You must know, by now, that advanced breast cancer is difficult to treat. Therefore, regular screening should be done to diagnose and ultimately treat breast cancer in its early stage. Women with high risk for breast cancer should talk to their doctor to initiate a screening program. However, going for a screening test doesnt always mean you are going to have cancer. Screening are performed before the symptoms develop. Further tests are then done to confirm the diagnosis.
The most common method of screening for breast cancer is a mammogram. It takes the X-ray of breast tissues. Abnormal result on a mammogram can be a sign of breast cancer. Mammograms are best way to diagnose breast cancer early. Women, age 40 and above should start getting screened with mammograms annually, especially if they have a family history.
- Breast MRI:
Another method of screening is breast magnetic resonance imaging . It uses magnets and resonance to create the image of breast tissues. For screening, it is used along with mammogram to diagnose women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
Apps And Tools To Help With Breast Cancer Self
If you’re having trouble remembering the usual look and feel of your breasts, try making a “map” to log the different colors and consistencies of your breast tissue. These apps and tools can help with your breast cancer self-exams and keep you on track.
Keep a Breast: Provided by the Keep A Breast Foundation, this app helps you establish a regular routine for self breast checks. You can set a date to get a monthly push reminder and the app guides you through your self-exam each time.
Know Your Lemons: This app is designed to improve early detection by offering self-exam instructions, quizzes, symptoms, screening tools and more. It even allows you to calculate your own personal level of risk of breast cancer.
B4BC: This app from Boarding for Breast Cancer teaches you how to perform a self breast exam, allows you to set a schedule that’s in sync with your menstrual cycle and provides resources like educational content, healthy recipes and wellness tips.
Pink Luminous Breast Light: This handheld tool from the Pink Luminous Advocacy Project intends to make self-exams for breast cancer easier and more effective. It uses LED technology to identify lumps, dark spots, clusters and other signs you may not be able to see with your eyes or feel with your fingers. This tool does not replace screenings with a doctor, but can increase the likelihood of early detection.
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Is There A Particular Time Of The Month I Should Do Breast Self
Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating should perform a breast self-exam after their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.
Place Your Hands On Your Hip
Strip to the waist and stand before a mirror. You will need to see both breasts at the same time. Stand with your hands on your hips and check the overall appearance of your breasts.
Look at the size, shape, and contour.
Note changes, if any, in the color or texture of the skin on your breasts as well as on your nipples and areolas.
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Lymph Nodes Breast Cancer And Covid
It is worth noting that breast cancer is not the only reason for lymph node swelling under the arm. The lymph nodes play a role in the bodys immune response, and swelling can occur as they fight unwanted intruders, such as infections.
The lymph nodes under the arm can also swell in response to a vaccine, such as the COVID-19 vaccine. This could contribute to a false diagnosis of breast cancer. For this reason, experts suggest scheduling any routine mammograms at least 46 weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, if a person has concerns about possible symptoms of breast cancer, they should not hesitate to contact a doctor. They should also not delay having a COVID-19 vaccine. This is because if cancer is present, they may benefit from the extra protection a vaccine offers.
BreastCancer.org recommends checking the breasts once per month at the same time each month.
Before menopause, it is best to do the self-exam a few days after menstruation ends. At this time, the breasts are least likely to be swollen or sore.
After menopause, a person might decide to check, for example, on the first day of each month.
The normal texture and appearance of breasts can vary among individuals. Certain areas might feel sandy or grainy, and others might have small lumps. Not all breast lumps are cancerous.
Routine self-exams help people develop a sense of what is normal for them and make it easier to spot any changes that might occur.
Breast Changes To Look Out For
See a GP if you notice any of the following changes:
- a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
- a change in the look or feel of the skin on your breast, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
- a new lump, swelling, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before
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How To Detect Breast Cancer At Home
Detecting breast cancer is possible if there is a regular breast examination done by a woman. It is a simple process involving touching, looking for certain changes and if found, getting it checked by your doctor.
Checking your breasts does not involve special techniques and can be done in a few minutes. Press lightly and feel the whole breast area, including the armpits and upper chest to identify any lumps, skin inflammation, cracking or puckering of skin on the breasts.
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How Will My Prognosis Affect My Treatment
Following surgery or radiation, your treatment team will determine the likelihood that the cancer will recur outside the breast. This team usually includes a medical oncologist, a specialist trained in using medicines to treat breast cancer. The medical oncologist, who works with your surgeon, may advise the use of tamoxifen or possibly chemotherapy. These treatments are used in addition to, but not in place of, local breast cancer treatment with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
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How To Make Breast Self
Make it routine. The more you examine your breasts, the more you will learn about them and the easier it will become for you to tell if something has changed. Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you are no longer having periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month.
Get to know your breasts’ different neighborhoods. The upper, outer area near your armpit tends to have the most prominent lumps and bumps. The lower half of your breast can feel like a sandy or pebbly beach. The area under the nipple can feel like a collection of large grains. Another part might feel like a lumpy bowl of oatmeal.
Start a journal where you record the findings of your breast self-exams. This can be like a small map of your breasts, with notes about where you feel lumps or irregularities. Especially in the beginning, this may help you remember, from month to month, what is normal for your breasts. It is not unusual for lumps to appear at certain times of the month, but then disappear, as your body changes with the menstrual cycle .
Why Is Bse Important
Monthly breast self-examination is an important part of health care for all women in every stage of life.
This is one physical examination you can do yourself, in the privacy of your own home.
Women can discover breast changes themselves through self-exams, so this is an important health routine to establish.
In addition to BSE, women should get regular breast examination by their health care provider. Women should have annual mammograms starting at age 40.
Doing these steps have been shown to improve the chances of early detection of breast cancer.
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How To Conduct A Self
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women should begin by standing topless in front of a mirror and doing a visual inspection to confirm that there are no noticeable differences in the breasts, like puckering or changes in size, then find a methodical technique to make sure the whole breast area is examined.
Axelrod recommends using the pads of the fingers, avoiding pressing with fingernails, and applying different levels of pressure to see if the feeling or response is any different.
“Make sure that you’re covering the entire area, because breasts really can extend from the clavicle to below the bra line and from the breastbone to the underarm,” she explained. “It can encompass a wide area.”
She also recommended finding a quiet moment in the day to do the breast exam. While examining, lie down and raise the arm of the breast being examined above the head and do the exam with the opposite hand.
“Do it on the first of the month, or whenever you pay your bills, or whenever is a consistent time to remember,” Axelrod said.
“We have never proven that this saves lives. We’ve never shown that it is effective as a screening tool,” she continued. “But if you have a young woman, where you’re not doing anything this is free, this is convenient, it doesn’t cost anything. She might as well know that something could be different.”
Women should conduct a self-exam every few months, Axelrod said.
In The Shower Or Bath
It may be easier to check your breasts while youre in the shower or bath, as your hands are wet. This makes it easier to slide your hand over your breasts.
An easy way to check your breasts is to:
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Breast Implants May Make Cancer Harder To Detect
Breast implants may make it more difficult to detect breast cancer at an early stage, a new analysis suggests.
In the study of women with breast cancer, those with breast implants tended to be diagnosed at a later stage than women without implants.
However, the findings are preliminary, and more research is needed to confirm them.
Breast implants themselves are not thought to increase the risk of breast cancer, but there has been concern that implants may impair doctorsâ ability to view breast tissue with mammograms. Earlier studies looking at this issue have had mixed results.
The new study analyzed information from 12 previous studies involving women with breast cancer who either did have or did not have breast implants. Together, these studies included women living in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Women with breast implants were 26 percent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a late stage, compared to women without breast implants. However, this finding did not quite rise to the level of âsignificant,â meaning it could have been due to chance.
In a separate analysis of an additional five studies of women with breast cancer, women with implants were 38 percent more likely to die of the disease than women without implants.
This second finding should also be interpreted with caution, the researchers said, because some of the studies didnât take into account factors that could influence breast cancer risk, such as obesity.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Breast Cancer
While different people have different symptoms of breast cancerand some dont have any at allwarning signs of breast cancer include new lumps in the breast and armpit, swelling of the breast, redness or pain in the nipple region, or change in the breast size.
Remember that some of these symptoms are associated with other conditions that arent cancer.
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Why Should I Do A Breast Cancer Self
To be clear, a self-exam can’t diagnose you with breast cancer — only doctors can do that through a variety of tests, which may include a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or breast tissue biopsy.
Performing self-exams can, however, help you become familiar with your breasts so that you’re more likely to notice subtle changes. You should become familiar with the size, shape, symmetry , coloration and texture of your breasts.
Easy Steps To Do Your Diy Breast Self
Doing a DIY breast self-check every month helps you to understand and be familiar with the condition of your breast
Step 1: Look
Put your hands on your hips and look out for changes in breast shape, skin surface and nipple abnormalities. Raise your arms above your head to look for changes on the underside of your breast.
Step 2: Touch
Touch and feel your breast using your middle 3 fingers, moving in a circular motion from outer area towards the nipple. Gently squeeze your nipple to check for any discharge.
Repeat this step for your other breast
Step 3: Check
Check for lumps by examining your entire breast from your armpit to your cleavage with different pressure.
Repeat this step for your other breast.
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How Do I Spot The Symptoms
It is important to know the symptoms of breast implant associated cancer. The most common symptom is swelling of a breast caused by fluid build-up around the implant, but in some cases it may appear as a lump in the breast or armpit.
As this is a rare disease, changes in your breast are unlikely to be breast implant associated cancer. For example, swelling immediately after your breast implant surgery is normal. But you should raise all concerns with your surgeon, including the possibility of breast implant associated cancer. If the surgeon or clinic which performed your original implant operation is no longer available, you should see your GP for referral to another surgeon.
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What To Do If You Find A Lump
Dont panic if you think you feel a lump in your breast. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign . There are a number of possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps, including normal hormonal changes, a benign breast condition, or an injury.
Dont hesitate to call your doctor if youve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worrisome. This is especially true for changes that last more than one full menstrual cycle or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way. If you menstruate, you may want to wait until after your period to see if the lump or other breast change disappears on its own before calling your doctor. The best healthcare provider to call would be one who knows you and has done a breast exam on you before for example, your gynecologist, primary care doctor, or a nurse practitioner who works with your gynecologist or primary care doctor.
Make sure you get answers. Its important that your doctor gives you an explanation of the cause of the lump or other breast change and, if necessary, a plan for monitoring it or treating it. If youre not comfortable with the advice of the first doctor you see, dont hesitate to get a second opinion.
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Why Should I Do Breast Self
Monthly breast self-exams can help you detect changes that may be signs of infection or breast cancer . When breast cancer is detected early, the chances for survival are much better.
Self-exams are important for breast health. But they should not replace exams and screening tests recommended by doctors. You should still see your primary care provider and/or gynecologist regularly.