Common symptoms of breast cancer include:
Because breast cancer usually doesn't show symptoms in its early stages, early detection is important for breast health. Often, some symptoms are not due to cancer but could be related to another health problem. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that proper diagnoses and treatment can begin.
There are at least 25 risk factors beyond a genetic link—including just being a woman—that increase the risk of getting breast cancer. Some of these include:
As you consider your personal risk, you can start by taking the National Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool. Many experts say that this tool is only the beginning. Every woman should have a thorough discussion with her doctor about her personal health history and risk of breast cancer.
If you have an existing primary care physician, advanced practice provider or gynecologist, call 740-779-7711 to schedule your routine mammogram.
There are a number of types of exams to determine if cancer is present:
During a clinical breast exam, your doctor checks your breasts. Your doctor is looking for signs such as differences in size or shape between your breasts, the skin of your breasts is checked for abnormal signs, your nipples are checked for fluid, lymph nodes near the breast are checked to see if they are enlarged and you will also be checked for lumps. If a lump is found, it will be checked for size, shape, and texture.
Mammograms, which are pictures of the breast tissue, can usually detect a breast lump before it can be felt. Along with lumps, mammograms can also show a cluster of calcium, called micro-calcifications. These can be from cancerous or precancerous cells, or other conditions. Further tests may be needed to determine if abnormal cells are present.
Sometimes your doctor may order additional imaging tests. This occurs usually if an abnormal area is found during initial testing. These tests may include an Ultrasound or MRI. An ultrasound device sends out sound waves and a computer uses the sound waves to create a picture that will show more information about the lump. A MRI uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer, which creates detailed pictures of breast tissue, which will illustrate a variation between normal and diseased tissue.
A biopsy is the final test to determine if you have cancer. This is the removal of tissue to look for cancer cells. There are several types of biopsies, ranging from fine-needle to surgical. Depending on where the fluid or tissue is, your doctor will select which biopsy option will work best in your case.
Although a breast self-exam is not recommended as a screening tool for breast cancer, knowing how your breasts normally look and feel can help you detect changes in your breasts. The Susan G. Komen Foundation lists the following changes in your breasts as possible warning signs for breast cancer:
It is estimated that about 13 percent of women born in the United States today will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives. However, as treatments improve and technology advances, the death rate for breast cancer is steadily going down. According to the American Cancer Society, the five year survival rate for breast cancer is 90 percent.