September 5, 2021
What Every Woman Needs To Know About A Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer is a scary subject but screening doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to start at the doctor’s office. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the United States and starting early self-exams is a lifesaver. Over 40,000 women have died from breast cancer according to the CDC. The USPSTF says that after age 40, women should speak to their doctor about beginning mammograms every two years. Women that have screenings after age 40 are 40% less likely to die from breast cancer according to the NIH. Screening methods include exams given by your doctor, self-exams, mammograms, and MRIs.
Do Mammogram Screenings Have Risks?
In general, mammograms are safe and can help discover breast cancer early. Like with screening, there are some risks. It’s essential to ask your doctor about the risks to stay informed. Some risks include:
– Mammograms don’t catch everything: No test can be 100% accurate and cancer.org says 1 in 5 cases of breast cancer are missed by mammograms.
– False-positives happen: Sometimes, mammograms can lead to additional tests due to false positives. This is especially true with younger women and cancer.org says about half of tests will lead to false positives.
– Overtreatment can happen: Mammograms can find non-life-threatening cancers that would have otherwise not been treated. It’s hard to tell if these types of cancers will spread, so doctors provide treatment anyway.
Why Should I Get A Mammogram If There Are Risks?
– Mammograms are effective: The NIH says mammograms can lower the chance of dying from breast cancer.
– They are fairly low effort: Mammograms may be uncomfortable but they are widely available and a quick test that can save your life.
Will Mammograms Hurt?
The majority of women will feel some discomfort during the x-ray. It’s normal to feel pressure during the process that can cause discomfort or pain. But not all women experience mammograms the same way. Some may feel more discomfort than others due to factors like variations in positions for the screening, the proportions of your breasts, and the date of the exam in relation to your period.
How Do I Do A Self-Exam?
– Start by looking at yourself in a mirror straight on.
– Look for any changes like dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, inverted nipple, or any rash or redness.
– Next, raise your arms and look for the same type of changes.
– Be sure to check for signs of any abnormal liquid leaking from your nipples like blood or a watery substance.
– Then, follow the next steps lying down, then standing.
– Raising your right hand, feel your left breast, and then use your left hand to feel your right breast. Use the first few finger pads of the hand while keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
– Repeat on all parts of the breasts.
– Report any abnormalities to your doctor.