Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American females, aside from skin cancers.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her life. As women, we should be accustomed to checking our breasts for lumps regularly, as well as scheduling our mammogram. However, in addition to checking for lumps, there are a variety of other symptoms to look out for as well.
Women over the age of 50 and men over the It’s very common to have two breasts that aren’t identical—they can be slightly different in shape, size, or position. However, if one breast is noticeably bigger or is changing shape, consider sharing that information with your provider. Mammograms also have the ability to test for abnormalities in breast tissue.
If you are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, you may experience nipple discharge occasionally—not always pleasant, but very normal. However, if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, but experiencing discharge that is bloody or clear, it is recommended that you visit with your care provider. Please note that this is not a tell-tale sign of breast cancer.
A provider can help determine the underlying cause of the discharge and share treatment options. It could be a sign of a breast infection or fibrocystic breasts (characterized by lumpiness and discomfort in one or both breasts), both of which are non-cancerous.
The important takeaway from this newsletter is the concept of change. For example, you could live your whole life with inverted nipples. For you, that would be considered normal. However, if your nipples once stuck out and are now inverted, then it may be time to discuss that change with a provider.
It’s possible for a tumor to develop deep in your breast causing inflammation that ties to the ligaments and skin. When this occurs, part of your skin can be pulled in which creates the appearance of a dimple. The dimple may be more noticeable when your arm is raised, so elevate your arms when you’re conducting your breast exams at home to ensure you don’t overlook a potential symptom.
Regular breast cancer screenings are so important. Screenings detect signs of cancer that may not be recognized by a self-breast examination. The guidelines below are provided by American Cancer Society and are recommended for woman at “average risk” for breast cancer. This means that she does not have a personal history of breast cancer, a strong family history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase the risk of breast cancer (such as a BRCA gene), and has not had chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.
- Women between 40 and 54 should get a mammogram each year.
- Women 55 and older can receive a mammogram every other year; however, they are welcome to continue yearly mammograms.
- Women who are considered “high risk” for breast cancer should get a mammogram every year starting at age 30.
It’s important to emphasize that although there are a variety of potential signs of breast cancer, having one or more of the symptoms does not necessarily mean that you’ve developed breast cancer. An appointment with your provider will offer clarity and next steps if needed.
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