Early Vigilance Saves Lives from Breast Cancer
If caught early, breast cancer has a 98 percent survival rate. So why put off testing? Breast Specialty of Baton Rouge has some helpful tips and info about early testing methods.
Self-Exams Every woman aged 20 and older should be conducting monthly self-exams, two-three days after your period or on the same date every month if you no longer have periods. Monthly self-examinations help you learn about how your breast normally look and feel so that you easily be able to notice changes. If you notice any of the following changes, they should be reported to your healthcare provider immediately. They will conduct follow up procedures to check for breast cancer.
New lump around the breast or under the arm
Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin
Redness or flaky skin on the breast, especially around or on the nipple
Discharge, other than breast milk, from the nipple that occurs without squeezing
Any change in the shape or size of the breast
Pain in any area of the breast
You should also be getting regular clinical breast exams (CBE) by your physician with your yearly physical exam. During your CBE, your healthcare provider can explain and teach you how to conduct a thorough breast examination and check for any of the above changes. But in general, the most efficient method is to lie down with one arm straight back above your head. Use a vertical strip pattern with moderate to firm pressure with your fingertips from your underarm across and down to below where your bra usually sits.
Mammograms While mammograms are the best available method for detecting early stages of breast cancer, they are not perfect. Don’t ignore something you feel because a mammogram came back normal. A screening mammogram is an X-ray exam that is used to find cancer too small to feel. Mammograms use a small dose of radiation to produce high quality X-rays. While sometimes uncomfortable, the mammogram process only takes about 20 minutes or less. Every woman should begin annual mammograms at age 40 and on. If you have symptoms or changes in your breasts, of if breast cancer runs in your family, your physician may recommend more frequent mammograms.
To prepare for your mammogram:
Schedule your mammogram appointment for about a week after your period, so that your breasts don’t hurt as much.
Bring a detailed history of the other breast exams and treatments you have had before.
If you have had mammograms at another facility, bring your scan so the doctor can compare the new and previous results.
On the day of the exam, don’t wear deodorant, perfume or powder; they can interfere with the imaging.
Do not wear a dress. Wear clothing that will allow you to undress from the waist up so that you can feel more comfortable.