This year in the United States, it’s estimated that 255,180 women
will be diagnosed with breast cancer. But while the condition is common,
it’s also very treatable—especially when found in its early stages.
That’s why it’s important for women to take proactive steps
to keep an eye on their breast health. Because finding the symptoms of
breast cancer early and seeking treatment can make a significant difference.
But it can seem like
guidelines for breast cancer screenings and detection change daily. So how can you know what steps you need to take to protect yourself?
Let’s take a look at some ways you can safeguard your breast health.
Keep an Eye on Your Breasts
In the past, guidelines recommended that women perform monthly breast-self
exams to identify any changes in the breasts.
Today, though, guidelines don’t call for formal BSEs. Instead, experts
recommend that women familiarize themselves with their breasts by regularly
examining them and knowing what’s normal for them and what’s not.
When examining your breasts, there are certain changes to keep an eye out
- A nipple that’s turned inward or inverted
- Changes in skin texture around the breasts, including dimpling
- Lumps in the breasts
- Nipple discharge
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts
Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breasts, the
areola, or the nipple
- Tenderness in the nipple area, near the breasts, or in the underarm
- Unexplainable changes in the size or shapes of the breasts
If you spot any of these changes, it’s important to talk with your
doctor, who may recommend diagnostic testing.
Get Them Checked Out
In addition to being familiar with your own breasts, it’s also important
to have age-appropriate screenings and tests as recommended by your doctor.
Every woman should have an
annual well-woman checkup. During this checkup, your doctor will likely perform a clinical breast
exam, manually checking your breasts for the same symptoms outlined above.
Beginning at age 40—or the age your doctor recommends—women
should also undergo regular mammograms. Mammograms capture an image of
the breast tissue that’s reviewed for any suspicious areas, and
they can often show lumps before they can actually be felt.
Many women don’t experience noticeable symptoms of breast cancer,
which is why screenings are vitally important.
Why These Steps Are Important
Breast cancer is very treatable, but it’s most treatable—and
survivable—when it’s found in its earliest stages.
This type of cancer has five stages—with stage IV being the most
advanced. For women diagnosed with stages 0, I, or II breast cancer, the
5-year survival rate is higher than 90 percent.
Taking proactive steps to monitor your breast health can help ensure that
even if breast cancer is found, it can be treated.
Have you had your mammogram this year? Saint Francis Healthcare offers
digital mammography services, accredited by the American College of Radiology.
Call (302) 421-4141 for more information, or to schedule your appointment today.