The American Cancer Society states, “1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime”. Breast cancer, like other cancers, occur when cells grow abnormally. It is the most common cancer in women next to skin cancer. It is important to note that even though it is rare, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too. Any breast lump or noticeable difference should be checked out by a health care professional as some lumps can be benign, but it is important to confirm rather than ignore.
So, when is it appropriate to begin preventive mammogram screenings?
According to the American Cancer Society, women age 40-44 should have the choice to start an annual breast screening. If you have a family history of breast cancer you may want to begin to consider getting screenings. Women age 45-54 should receive a mammogram every year. Women 55 and older can continue a yearly screening or begin to get a screening once every two years. Some signs and symptoms to look out for are swelling, breast pain, discharge, swollen lymph nodes, red scaly skin and nipple retraction.
Take charge of your breast health. You can also perform self-exams in between your mammogram appointments. To perform a self-exam lie down with one arm behind your head, use your opposite hand to check your breast tissue in a circular motion. Feel for changes in your underarm all the way to the middle of your breast bone. In addition, stand in front of a mirror to look for visible changes in shape, size or contour.*
Early detection is key and can help avoid or diminish problems in the future. You should continue to visit your health care provider for annual screenings even if you are healthy.
*The self-examination content is not intended for medical advice and should be used for informational purpose only. Please seek and establish proper medical attention for exact methodology.