Breast Cancer Screening Tests You Should Know
Dr Aurangabadwala has described three breast cancer screening options and how often you should go for it:
Mammogram: It is an X-ray of the breast to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat, and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Regular mammograms can cut down the risk of mortality and morbidity due to breast cancer. Hence, a mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer for most women of screening age. Go for it after 40 on a yearly basis. Women under 40 years of age who are at high risk such as strong family history or notice any breast changes are also recommended to undergo mammography.
Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging : Here, magnets and radio waves are used to take pictures of the breast. Breast MRI is carried out along with mammograms to screen women who are at high risk for getting breast cancer.
Breast self-exam: Your doctor will suggest you do it by standing in front of the mirror and spot some changes in the shape of the breast. You will have to check any red flags such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern. Report any changes that you notice to your doctor. If you notice any changes then don’t panic and seek timely intervention.
As many as 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 and it caused 685,000 deaths worldwide the same year, according to the World Health Organization .
Should You Do A Breast Self
But should you do a regular breast self-exam?
While self-exams can help you get familiar with how your breasts usually look and feel, doctors don’t necessarily recommend them as a tool to help look for breast cancer. Studies have shown that they donât lower your chances of dying from breast cancer and may raise the risk of unnecessary biopsies. They’re no substitute for regular mammograms.
But they may be helpful if you’re at high risk of breast cancer. They may also provide peace of mind if you’re in an age group in which annual mammograms aren’t recommended â under 45 or over 55. Ask your doctor whether self-exams are a good idea for you.
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Interview in Tamil with Mrs. Annapurni Padmanabhan, summarized in English, Mumbai, 1st July, 2019: Mrs. Padmanabhan, 78 years old, Breast Cancer survivor, diagnosed at the age of 70 with Stage I. Hats off to Mrs. Annapurni, who was very vigilant and went to the doctor immediately when she felt an issue. She got diagnosed at very early Stage I and underwent only surgery and did not need chemotherapy and radiation. Mrs. Annapurni, is an inspiration to the mankind, setting an example – early detection is the key!
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Importance Of Breast Self
The importance of breast self-examination was noticed when an increased proportion of women with early diagnosis of breast cancer were treated in time successfully.
When the diagnostic procedure of breast cancer was introduced, a small fraction of medical fraternity listed the potential burden of false-positive results associated with pointless imaging tests and unnecessary biopsies which resulted in the resistance against breast self-examination.
Resistance was soon abandoned due to the
- high incidence of breast cancer,
- positive anecdotal experiences reported by patients and practitioners, and
- intention to empower women through self-diagnosis.
Recognizing the importance of early breast cancer detection through breast self-examination, several organisations promoted the breast self-examination as a potential screening procedure, encouraging women to be cognizant of any changes in their body
What Does It Mean When Your Breast Is Thick
But do check in with your doctors office if you notice any new breast changes, such as: An area that is different from any other area on either breast. A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that lasts through your menstrual cycle. A change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast.
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How To Tell If You Have Breast Cancer
If you find a lump or any other worrisome changes, stay calm. Most self-exam findings are not signs of breast cancer. But you should still call your healthcare provider if you notice any: 1 Change in the look, feel or size of the breast. 2 Change in the look or feel of the nipple. 3 Dimpling or puckering of the skin. 4 Lump, hard knot or thick spot in the breast tissue. 5 Nipple discharge. 6 Nipple or other area pulling inward. 7 Pain in one spot that wont go away. 8 Rash on the nipple. 9 Swelling of one or both breasts. 10 Warmth, redness, or dark spots on the skin.
How Do I Do A Breast Self
The techniques for a self-exam are similar for everyone. If you choose to do one, follow these steps:
In the mirror:
In the shower:
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Symptoms To Look Out For
Some people with breast cancer experience no symptoms. In some cases, however, changes may start to occur from an early stage. People should speak with a doctor about their screening plan if they have any concerns.
It is also worth noting that not all breast lumps are breast cancer, and not every case of breast cancer involves a lump. For these reasons, people should attend regular screening as a doctor recommends.
Breast cancer can cause changes in the lymph nodes in the early stages.
To check the lymph nodes, look for:
- a lump, swelling, or thickening around the underarm
- a lump or swelling in the collarbone area
- a thickening of the skin in the armpit
Lymph node involvement can also result in a rash on the breast in people with inflammatory breast cancer.
A person should contact a doctor about these or any other unexplained changes, especially if they only seem to affect one breast.
Where Can I Go To Get Screened
You can get screened for breast cancer at a clinic, hospital, or doctors office. If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctors office. They can help you schedule an appointment.
Most health insurance plans are required to cover screening mammograms every one to two years for women beginning at age 40 with no out-of-pocket cost .
Are you worried about the cost? CDC offers free or low-cost mammograms. Find out if you qualify.
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Women Who Practise Bse
Only observational studies of women with breast cancer who were asked about their history of regular BSE practice consistently found a difference in breast cancer mortality associated with BSE. The studies are likely to be affected by several biases publication bias, selection bias, recall bias, lead-time bias and length-biased sampling . Several studies have shown that various characteristics that are likely to be associated with dying from breast cancer were also associated with BSE practice, but analyses adjusting for the potential effect of such confounding on mortality were not reported. Women who practised BSE tended to be younger, premenopausal and of a higher socioeconomic status . Much of the reduction in mortality observed in these studies might therefore be explained by a combination of these and other confounding factors as well as the aforementioned biases, rather than a real effect of BSE.
How Often Should I Do A Breast Self Exam
How often should I do a breast self exam ? Give yourself a breast self-exam once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, feeling a palpable lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, inversion of the nipple, redness or scaliness of the breast skin, redness or scaliness of the nipple/areola area, or discharge of secretions from the nipple.
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Tools Used To Assess Breast Cancer Risk
Several risk assessment tools can help health professionals estimate a womans breast cancer risk. These tools give rough estimates of breast cancer risk, based on different combinations of risk factors and different data sets.
Because each of these tools uses different factors to estimate risk, they might give different risk estimates for the same woman. A women’s risk estimates can also change over time.
Risk assessment tools that include family history in first-degree relatives and second-degree relatives on both sides of the family should be used with the ACS guidelines to decide if a woman should have MRI screening. The use of any of the risk assessment tools and its results should be discussed by a woman with her health care provider.
Perform A Manual Inspection While You Are Lying Down
Lie down on a bed or couch, place a pillow under your left shoulder and put your left hand behind your head. Use your right hand to manually examine your left breast using the same techniques outlined in step 2. Then, position the pillow under your right shoulder, put your right hand behind your head and use your left hand to manually examine your right breast using the same techniques.
If you discover a lump or another abnormality during your monthly breast self-exam, dont panic most breast lumps are not cancerous. Just be sure to discuss any unusual changes with a physician right away.
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Physical Exam While Lying Down
A lying down exam allows the breast tissue to spread out evenly along the chest wall. In this position, a person can check the whole of both breasts and the wider chest area.
To check the breast while lying down, follow these steps:
What You Can Expect
- Begin with a visual examination of your breastsSit or stand shirtless and braless in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. To inspect your breasts visually, do the following: 1. Face forward and look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape or symmetry. 2. Check to see if your nipples are turned in . 3. Inspect your
- Next, use your hands to examine your breastsCommon ways to perform the manual part of the breast exam include: 1. Lying down.Choose a bed or other flat surface to lie down on your back. When lying down, breast tissue spreads out, making it thinner and easier to feel. 2. In the shower.Lather your fingers and breasts with soap t
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Con: They May Not Be As Beneficial As You Think
Though it is most commonly performed to detect breast cancer, self-examination should never be used to replace a mammogram or MRI in the diagnosis process. If you are at a high risk for breast cancer based on a family history, you should visit a doctor annually for a screening. Women at average risk should get breast cancer screenings as needed at a young age, annually from ages 45 to 54, and every other year after age 55. If you notice a change in your breast either by conducting a breast self-examination or by chance, contact your doctor to schedule a screening.
General Tips For A Manual Examination
Use the pads of your fingers: Use your right hand for your left breast and your left hand for your right breast.Use a firm, smooth touch with the pads of your three middle fingers. Keep the fingers flat and pressed together. Press down in small circular motions with your fingers.
Follow a Pattern for Consistency: Following the same pattern each time ensures that your examination is consistent each time. It also makes sure you cover your entire breast and dont miss an area. You can start at the nipple and move in slightly larger circles until you reach the outer edge of your breasts. You can also divide your breast into sections like a clock or quarters and move from section to section. Many women find the method of moving up and down, vertically to be the easiest. Make sure you cover all breast tissue from the front to the back. Also, make sure to check your armpits for any changes.
Use Different Pressure Levels: To ensure that you properly feel all the breast tissue, use different levels of pressure to feel different depths of your breasts. Lighter pressure will allow you to feel the tissue closest to the skin, medium pressure will allow for a deeper feel, and firm pressure will allow you to feel the tissue closest to your ribs. Use each pressure at every spot before moving on to the next.
Take Your Time: Dont rush the process. It should take several minutes to examine both breasts thoroughly. Even as you grow familiar with your body, take your time.
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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 bodyâs 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 4â6 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.
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.