Breast cancer is the second most-diagnosed cancer in women.
It affects one in every eight women in the United States. And until there is a cure for breast cancer, early detection practices like mammograms, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exams remain as the best methods to identify early stages of breast cancer.
This method can also increase the survival rate. This is because cancers that aren’t diagnosed at an early stage are harder to treat successfully. If cancer spreads, effective treatments become more difficult. Below are some examples of how spotting cancer early can make a real difference.
Best Methods To Detect Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is oftentimes found after symptoms appear. This can lead to late preventions since many women with breast cancer have no symptoms. This is where the first method of detection comes in.
The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it actually causes symptoms. For example, if you feel a lump in your breast, a screening test can answer many questions.
According to the American Cancer Society, a woman is considered to be at average risk if she doesn’t have a personal history of breast cancer, or a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for women at average risk:
- Women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year.
- Women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year or choose to continue yearly mammograms.
It’s important to keep an updated medical practice environment in your office in order to keep patients and offer the best medical service around.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Now if you’re a curious reader and you’re not sure whether you’re at an average or high risk of breast cancer, consider the following factors:
- Age: The risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is higher, the older you are. For example, if you’re 50 years old, the probability of developing cancer in the next ten years is 2.31%. And if you’re 60, the probability increases to 3.49%.
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Family history of breast cancer
- Genetic factors: Genetic mutations including changes to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be factors that influence the risk of breast cancer.
- Childbearing and menstrual history: The older you are when you have your first child, the greater your risk of having breast cancer. You’re also at high risk if you’ve never had children, and if you go through late menopause.
We also recommend that if you’re in your 20s, you should begin regular breast self-examinations. You can also start to receive regular clinical breast exams by a health care provider.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
Below are some symptoms of breast cancer to look out for:
- Swelling, redness or inflammation
- Changes in the nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Peeling or flaky skin
- Pain in the breast
- Itchy or irritated breast
- Changes in color
Early Detection is Key
If you’re over 40, it’s important to get a mammogram as soon as possible. A Swedish Cancer Institute study revealed that women between the ages of 40-49 who’ve had yearly mammograms fare better than those who don’t.
Remember to never ignore suspicious lumps and observe your lifestyle so you can mitigate any risk factors you may have. To learn more about the importance of the best medical practices for your or a patients treatment of breast cancer, click here.