Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. The aim of the month to help women understand breast cancer and the importance of screening for early detection to prevent serious illness.
Understanding Breast Cancer
Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.
What causes cancer to develop?
Cancer begins in the cells which are the basic building blocks that make up tissue. Tissue is found in the breast and other parts of the body. Sometimes, the process of cell growth goes wrong and new cells form when the body doesn’t need them and old or damaged cells do not die as they should. When this occurs, a buildup of cells often forms a mass of tissue called a lump, growth, or tumor.
Breast cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop in the breast. These cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor and entering blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into tissues throughout the body. When cancer cells travel to other parts of the body and begin damaging other tissues and organs, the process is called metastasis.
Early Detection –Signs & Symptoms
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two, and the presence of these symptoms and signs do not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.
By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual.
Breast Self -Exam
Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.
How should a breast self-exam be performed?
1) In the Shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
2) In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3) Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. Screening mammograms are routinely administered to detect breast cancer in women who have no apparent symptoms. Diagnostic mammograms are used after suspicious results on a screening mammogram or after some signs of breast cancer alert the physician to check the tissue.
Such signs may include:
- A lump
- Breast pain
- Nipple discharge
- Thickening of skin on the breast
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
Recommendations for all women:
- Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years.
- Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.
Even women who have no symptoms and no known risks for breast cancer should have regularly scheduled mammograms to help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.
What happens if my mammogram results are abnormal?
If the mammogram shows an abnormal area of the breast, your doctor will order additional tests offering clearer, more detailed images of that area.
Although lumps are usually non-cancerous, the only way to be certain is to perform additional tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI. If further tests show that the mass is solid, your radiologist may recommend a biopsy, a procedure in which cells are removed from a suspicious area to check for the presence of cancer.
Get a Mammogram….Give a Mammogram today!!!
Let’s join the fight against Cancer!
Call St. Augustine Private Hospital at 663-7274 or 285-7274 to schedule your Mammogram today!
Ask about our other Cancer screening tests available.
Early detection is your best protection against Cancer!