Breast cancer is all too common.
No one is exempt.
While it’s easy to put breast cancer at the back of your mind when you’re young, it can become a real concern as you get older. Therefore, it’ is worth taking notice of what is going on with your body and your breasts.
Taking preventative measures is your best chance of being prepared if anything should happen.
Breast Cancer Signs to Look For
There are multiple signs to look for when it comes to the early onset of breast cancer. Being familiar with your breasts is key so you are able to tell when there are abnormal signs appearing. Let’s look at the most common of these signs:
- Lumps or Thickening: Healthline says that the first sign of breast cancer is found by feeling, not seeing. You should get in the habit of doing a self breast exam (SBE) every month. The best time to do this is a few days after your period ends. To do a SBE, use your fingers to run along underneath your breast to your armpit. If you feel any lumps that aren’t typically there, you should consult your doctor.
- Discharge: If you notice any discharge coming from your nipples and you are not breastfeeding you should contact your OB/GYN immediately. Nipple discharge is not a good sign.
- Size and Shape: If you notice any changes in the size and shape of your breasts you should contact your OB/GYN as soon as possible. This may be an early sign of breast cancer.
- Peeling or Flaking: Peeling or flaking of the skin on your breast may also be an early detection of breast cancer. While other skin conditions like eczema can also cause this, it’s best to get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
What Are the Standard Mammogram Guidelines?
One of the best ways to detect breast cancer early before it has a chance to progress is by getting a mammogram.
Harvard Health Publishing explains that a mammogram is a procedure used to screen your breasts for cancer. While in the past, mammograms have been recommended to women under the age of fifty, there are now new guidelines in place.
Harvard elaborates by explaining that the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force now recommends woman of average risk be offered an opportunity to get a mammogram at age 40-49. If there are no risk factors then it is not recommended until they are age fifty or over. Once women reach these guidelines and have had their first mammogram they should have a repeat mammogram every two years.
How to Find Free Mammograms
Mammograms are an excellent way to discover the signs of breast cancer early and hopefully prevent it from progressing. However, it does cost to get a mammogram, and not everybody can afford it. Luckily, sometimes there is the option available for receiving a free mammogram.
Kathy-Ellen Kups of Everyday Health has a couple of suggestions when it comes to finding where you can get a free mammogram. As a first step, try contacting your local Cancer Society. Give them a call and ask if there are any clinics in your area that are offering mammograms for free.
Secondly, call your local hospitals and clinics. They will be able to provide you with community information which will include whether they can provide breast cancer screening services for free.
What Happens When You Experience Abnormal Mammograms
What happens if you experience an abnormal mammogram?
Susan G. Komen points out that even if you experience an abnormal mammogram, it does not necessarily mean breast cancer. It is quite possible that you could have a benign breast condition.
However, if your mammogram results do test positive for breast cancer, it’s essential to undergo follow-up tests. Which test you take will depend on the recommendation of your radiologist.
The first test to be done is a breast MRI. The MRI will conclusively determine the existence and extent of breast cancer. If this does comes back positive, it is important to undertake the next test, a biopsy, or a removal of breast tissue. This will then be sent away to a lab where they will test the tissue for breast cancer.
Going to Get a Mammogram
Breast cancer can be a scary notion and easily suppressed for as long as possible and no one likes the thought of taking a test that could potentially give you life-changing news.
While it may be tempting to not face the abnormal signs you are feeling or seeing, it is better to be brave and choose to have a regular mammogram screening. A mammogram can give you peace of mind if you’ve discovered a physical symptom at home and want to get it checked out. Alternatively, if the mammogram does come back abnormal, it’s a great opportunity to get testing and detect breast cancer as early as possible.