Like most cancers, early detection increases the changes of survival in breast cancer. During the early stages, the tumor are small and most likely in one part.
Sign of Breast Cancer or Breast Malignancy:
- Change of size or shape of the breast
- Lump in the breast
- Lump in the underarm area (lymph nodes)
- Nipple discharge including blood
- Abnormal skin texture
- Changes in skin texture (redness or thickening)
- Lump or mass outside and inside the breast
- Redness of breast in non lactating women
- Skin irritation
A painless lump in the breast is usually the most common initial sign. When performing an examination a hard, uneven edged lump has the highest chance of being cancerous. But there is no guarantee that. Soft tender lump is not cancerous.
How to recognise if your breasts are abnormal?
By checking your breasts on a planned schedule, you will realise what is your normal breast. If ever your breasts feel different or look different visit your doctor. It is always advisable to go to a doctor if you are suspicious.
How do to a self breast examination?
Start performing a monthly self-exam as soon as your breasts are fully developed. Checking yourself regularly is important — you need to know what your breasts feel like normally so you can recognize any changes. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you’re no longer having periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month. Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for breasts to feel lumpy due to benign fibrocystic breast disease, cysts, scar tissue, infections, and other causes that have nothing to do with cancer.
Have your doctor perform a breast examination at your yearly check-up, and begin annual mammograms at age 40. If you have a family history of the disease, tell your doctor: they may suggest that you start having mammograms at an earlier age. Knowing the signs of breast cancer — and being proactive about knowing how to recognize them early — is the best way to protect yourself.
What is Breast Cancer screening?
In order to early detect and timely treat cancer, early detection is the key. The process to look for breast cancer cells is called breast cancer screening. When detecting cancer early, screening for cancerous cells is important as the cancer may spread and become harder to treat. When the cancer spreads, more than one organ can be affected and the treatment becomes exponentially complex.
There are multiple ways of screening someone for breast cancer. When the cancer is advanced the symptoms are prominent thus detection is easier. For early stage detection, genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors are also considered as they increase the likelihood of getting cancer. Depending on these factors, doctors may also suggest higher frequency of screening.
How is breast cancer screened?
There are 2 common methods:
- Breast MRI
What is a mammography?
In simple terms its just like a X-ray (with radiation) of your breast. It shows if there are any signs of cancer including lumps or lesions in the mammogram. You don’t need to have cancer to do a mammography. After the age of 40 mammograms recommended every year.
The largest trials in history have shown a 33 percent decrease in death from breast cancer in women over 40 who had regular screening mammograms.*
However recent studies have shown that 20 percent of the times mammogram have failed to accurately detect breast cancer. This is why multiple screenings techniques should be used for accurate testing.
What exactly happens during a mammogram?
Breast are compressed against two metal plates then the breast are x-rayed. Compressing allows the machine to identify the lumps and lesions especially at an early stage. By compressing, radiation is able to penetrate a thinner layers of tissue inside the breast.
Mammogram vs. Breast MRI
If you are at a high genetic risk of Breast Cancer (most cases due to BRCA 1/2 gene) then a MRI is recommended along with a standard mammogram. MRI are more expensive than mammograms.
What exactly happens during a Breast MRI?
A breast MRI is used as a screening tool as well as a way for doctors to see how far the cancer has spread post diagnosis. Unlike a mammogram breast MRI does not expose the patient to radiation.
The MRI machine creates a magnetic field around you, and radio waves are directed at your body. A dye may be inserted so the contrast from the dye can identify the cancer cells.
Breast MRI results:
It is very important to note that breast cancer screening is to understand the symptoms and detect breast malignancy. Screening is the act to conclude if there is a diagnosis for breast cancer.