7 Ways to Detect
Breast Cancer Early
Early-stage breast cancer sometimes has no overt symptoms, so early
detection is vital.
Did you know October is breast cancer awareness month? According to the CDC, 82% of breast cancer diagnoses occur in women over 50 years of age. In 2018, over a quarter of a million women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
To protect and care for the precious older women in your life, encourage them in breast cancer screenings.
Importance of Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Early-stage breast cancer sometimes has no overt symptoms, so early detection and regular screenings are vital, drastically increasing cancer survival odds. That is even more compelling when you consider that women over 40 are more likely to develop breast cancer, a possibility likely to increase until they reach 80.
Here are some suggestions for early detection.
Digital scans can better detect breast cancer—especially for women with denser breasts—than traditional film mammography.
Chose a Mammography Expert
Research has shown that doctors specializing in mammography are more accurate at reading mammography results than other physicans. Find a mammography center with doctors who specialize if your loved one needs the procedure.
Get a Clinical Exam
The American Cancer Society recommends that women 40-75 years old get an annual breast exam.
A doctor can advise women on what to look for through self-examination. If there are any changes, such as lumps, swelling or irritation, see a doctor.
Screening mammography is the first line of defense against breast cancer and has proven vital for early detection. Yearly mammograms are recommended for women over 40. These tests should continue every year or two (depending on risk factors) through age 75 and after that point as recommended.
Know the Risk Factors
Women must know the related risk factors for breast cancer. While you cannot control most factors, awareness is still critical. Let’s take a look:
Starting menstruation early or starting menopause late means some women are exposed to hormones longer. It seems unfair, but female hormones are related to the onset of breast cancer.
Dense breasts have more fatty tissue, which is more likely to develop cancer yet the dense tissue makes it harder to detect tumors even with a mammogram.
Most breast cancers are diagnosed after age 50, so screening from that age until at least age 75 is important for early detection.
Previous History with Cancer
Prior incidents of breast or other cancer (such as ovarian cancer) or past abnormal breast screenings could also be risk factors.
Family History with Breast or Ovarian Cancer
If there are family members—particularly on your mother’s side—who have had breast cancer or ovarian cancer, this could mean you are more susceptible.
Past Medical History
Women who had radiation therapy to the breasts or chest before age 30 have a higher risk of developing cancer later in life. Also, taking the drug diethylstilbestrol (called DES) while pregnant could be a risk factor. This drug was given to pregnant women from 1940–1971 to prevent miscarriages.
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