October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and that pink ribbon you see people wearing symbolizes the fact that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Please keep the following breast health information in mind—not just in October, but year-round.
Important mammogram information
- A mammogram is a screening test to detect cancer that is already present in the breast. It is not a preventative measure.
- Women should begin yearly screenings at the age of 40.
- Mammograms last approximately 20 minutes.
- Consistency is important. After finding a testing facility you trust, go there every year to have results compared.
- Avoid wearing antiperspirant to your appointment, as it is detectable on the image and can alter results.
Just because breast cancer doesn’t run in your family doesn’t mean you’re not susceptible
Research shows that only about 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary. Oftentimes, those with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. Instead, a cancer diagnosis could be attributed to someone’s lifestyle or environment. Eating an unhealthy diet, not exercising, consuming too much alcohol, and smoking can increase one’s cancer risk. However, women with close relatives (mother, daughter, or sister) who have been diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher chance of developing the disease. The largest risk factors are gender (99% of breast cancer patients are female) and aging.
Be aware of the symptoms
It is important for all women to perform exams on themselves throughout the year. Simply press the tips of your fingers around your breasts in a circular motion. A detectable symptom of breast cancer is a lump or bump in breast tissue, often noticeable during self-examination.
However, not everyone with cancer will feel a lump during their frequent examinations. Other abnormalities to look for include:
- Swelling of all or part of the breast
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast pain
- Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Discharge of the nipple
- A lump in the underarm area
If you experience or notice any of these symptoms or abnormalities, contact your physician immediately.
3D Mammography is the way to go
Innovative technology now allows doctors to capture 3D (rather than 2D) images of the breast. 3D Mammography™ gives physicians a better picture of a patient's breast tissue, resulting in earlier detection and fewer false alarms. While standard 2D mammography provides healthcare providers with a single image, advanced 3D imaging technology captures multiple images of a woman’s breast tissue for more accurate detection of breast abnormalities. This accuracy also results in reduced callbacks for patients to be retested. The length of the exam and amount of compression is almost identical to a traditional mammogram.
Wearing a bra isn't linked to breast cancer
A rumor has circulated throughout the years that bras, especially those with underwire, cause cancer. However, although bras aren’t always the most comfortable garment to wear, there is currently no evidence to support that assertion.
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