Is mammography alone enough to detect breast cancer early? Check out these 5 informative tips for early breast cancer detection.
In 2019, there were 268,600 new cases of female breast cancer in the country. Early breast cancer detection can help you get the treatment you need, improving your survival rate. For many women, the symptoms are invisible and left unnoticed.
Knowing how to detect breast cancer early can help you avoid pain and even death. Sometimes, scheduling regular mammography isn’t enough.
Early detection saves lives!
With these five tips, you can detect breast cancer as soon as possible. Keep reading to discover the tips you need to for early detection.
1. Visit an Expert
First, consider getting a mammogram if you’re already over 40. Early breast cancer detection will give you the best possible chance for a cure.
Who you visit matters as well. If you decide on scheduling a mammogram, make sure to visit an expert. A mammography expert will offer more accurate interpretations of the imaging.
You can check the American College of Radiology to discover a list of accredited facilities. Their site also lists “Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence,” allowing you to find the best center in your area.
Make sure to explore online reviews as well. Completing thorough research will give you peace of mind that you’re choosing the right specialist.
It’s important not to put off your screening out of fear. Many women put off testing because they’re afraid of discomfort. In order to minimize your discomfort, try to schedule your exam after your monthly period.
Your breast tissue will feel less sensitive during the week after your period.
You might also consider taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory. Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help minimize your pain during the exam. Consider speaking with your mammography technologist about possible discomfort.
They can help you discover other ways to minimize your pain.
Don’t put off your mammogram. After all, most abnormalities aren’t cancer. However, you might receive a call to return for more tests, including ultrasound testing, to confirm your results.
Visiting a specialist can help you avoid inaccurate readings, which can also reduce your stress.
2. Go Digital
In order to detect breast cancer as soon as possible, look for a center that specializes in digital mammography. These centers are ideal for women with dense breast tissue. You should also visit a center that specializes in digital testing if you’re younger than 50.
Digital scanning equipment is more successful at detecting breast cancer in women than traditional film mammography.
Once you choose a center, ask if they offer 3D breast ultrasound testing. Choosing a center with up-to-date equipment can help you avoid a false reading.
3. Know Your Normal
You can ensure early breast cancer detection by understanding how your breast feels normally. Ask your health care provider to show you how to complete a self-exam. They’ll show you how to detect changes in your breasts, including lumps or swelling.
If you notice lumps, swelling, skin irritation, or dimpling, visit your doctor.
Try to complete an at-home self-exam at least once a month. Many women detect breast cancer early after feeling a bump. Completing regular at-home tests will also help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel.
As a result, you’re more likely to recognize changes. Then, you can inform your healthcare professional before getting tested.
To complete a breast self-exam in the shower:
- Use the flats of your three middle fingers to press along your breast and armpit area
- Press down with a light, medium, and firm pressure
- Check both breasts for a lump, thickening, hardened knot, or other changes
If you complete a self-exam in front of the mirror:
- Visually inspect your breasts with both arms at your sides
- Raise your arms high overhead
- Look for changes in the contour of your breasts
- Check for swelling, dimpling of the skin, or changes to your nipples
- Rest your palms on your hips
- Press firmly to flex your chest muscles
- Check for dimpling, puckering, or changes
You can also complete a self-exam lying down. When you lie down, your breast tissue will spread evenly along your chest. To complete a test lying down:
- Place a pillow under your right shoulder and right arm, behind your head
- Using your left hand, move your fingers around your right best
- Use light, medium, and firm pressure
- Squeeze your nipple to check for lumps and discharge
- Repeat these steps for your left breast
Combine self-exams with regular mammography testing. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Don’t panic; not all lumps are cancerous.
4. Schedule a Regular Exam
In addition to a mammogram, you should also schedule a regular breast exam with your healthcare provider. Try to visit a health professional every few years for testing. They can examine your breasts for lumps and show you how to complete an at-home self-assessment.
A health professional will check for:
- Nipple tenderness or a lump
- Thickening in or near the breast or underarm area
- A change in your skin texture or enlargement of pores in the skin of your breast
- A lump in your breast
- An unexplained change in the size or shape of your breast
- Dimpling on your breast
- Unexplained swelling or shrinkage
- Recent asymmetry of your breasts
- A nipple that’s turned slightly inward or inverted
- Nipple discharge
If you notice any of these signs during your self-test, make sure to tell your doctor.
5. Know the Risks
The average risk of an American woman developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. That’s a one in eight chance she’ll develop breast cancer.
Does your family have a history of breast cancer? Make sure to speak with any female relatives to determine if they have a history. If so, let your doctor know.
Other risk factors include:
- Getting older
- Genetic mutations
- Early menstrual periods before you turned 12
- Starting menopause after turning 55
- Having dense breasts
- Personal history of breast cancer or non-cancerous breast disease
- Previous treatment using radiation therapy
Make sure to speak with your doctor to determine any other risk factors.
More Than a Mammogram: 5 Tips for Early Breast Cancer Detection
Sometimes, you need more than a mammogram. With these five tips for early breast cancer detection, you can get the treatment you need as soon as possible. Remember, early detection saves lives.
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