While National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October helps shed light on early detection and breast cancer, there’s never a wrong time to talk about it. Affinity Physicians for Women offers research-based tips and information regarding a variety of topics related to breast cancer prevention, screening and early detection, treatment and survivorship:
- If you are over 40, get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society’s recommendation is that women begin annual mammography screening now at age 40.
- Where you go matters – choose a mammography expert. Affinity Physicians for Women will guide you to the best in mammography imaging and the reading of those tests.
- Go digital. Centers that specialize in digital mammography are the best for women with dense breast tissue and for women under age 50.
- Don’t put off screening because of discomfort. Fear that the exam will be uncomfortable is one reason women tend to put off scheduling mammograms – to reduce discomfort, try to schedule the exam after your monthly period when breast tissue may be less sensitive. You may also benefit by taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen before your exam. Remember, while a mammogram may be uncomfortable, a mammogram should not be painful – and since early detection saves lives, it’s a step you shouldn’t skip.
- Don’t put of screening because of fear. Most abnormalities found after a mammogram are not cancer. In some cases you may be called back for more tests, such as additional ultrasound screening, to confirm that the area on the screening mammogram is normal.
- Know how your breasts feel normally. Our physicians at APFW can show you how to do breast self-exams; it’s great way to tell if there is any change. If you do notice a change in your breasts, such as a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, give us a call.
- In addition to mammography and self-exans, have a regular breast exam by your health care provider. The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40 and over should receive annual clinical breast exams. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years.
- Know your risk. If you have family members who have had breast cancer, especially a mother or sister, and if they had breast cancer before reaching menopause, tell your doctor, as your own risk of cancer may be higher than average.
- Try an online risk calculator. The Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (link) designed by the National Cancer Institute is a questionnaire to help women determine their chances of developing invasive breast cancer. https://bcrisktool.cancer.gov
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