Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated during the month of October, an annual event aimed to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a quite scary feeling, and most women assume that it won’t affect them. The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports that every ten minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer across the globe. With early detection, a woman ‘s survival rates go up and her quality of life improves. That’s why breast self-exams are an essential way for women to give a fighting chance, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The theme for Breast Cancer Awareness month 2021 is “RISE: Rally In Supporting, Serving and Screening Everyone,” which encourages women to go for mammogram screening and raise breast cancer awareness with the support of their family and friends to overcome fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Breast cancer remains leading cancer among women and the primary cause of mortality. Regular screening can find out breast cancer at an early stage and timely intervention can save lives.
Read through this article to know about the importance of prompt diagnosis and screening in the management of breast cancer.
Early signs of breast cancer can be a small lump in a breast, a painful breast or armpit or a discharge from the nipple. Even if none of these symptoms shows themselves, an annual check-up and a mammogram examination should be taken to rule out any risk. A mammogram procedure is painless and takes about ten minutes.
Ruling out breast cancer early and getting cutting edge cancer treatments are the most crucial strategies to avert deaths from this debilitating carcinoma. Breast cancer that’s detected early, when small and has not spread, is easier to treat effectively. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable method to find breast cancer at an early stage.
The Screening Guidelines For Women
What Are Screening Tests?
The main purpose of screening test for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms such as lumps that can be felt. Screening denotes tests and exams used to rule out disease in people who don’t have any symptoms.
Breast cancers identified during screening tests are more likely to be smaller yet limited to the breast. The size of lump and how deep it has spread are some of the most vital factors in forecasting the outlook of a woman with breast cancer.
Screening guidelines for women at average risk:
A woman is at average risk if she doesn’t have any family history of breast cancer or a genetic mutation that can increase risk such as in a BRCA gene and has not done chest radiation therapy before the age of 30.This include :
- Women between the ages of 40 and 44 should opt for screening with a mammogram every year
- Women in age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can opt for a mammogram every other year. Screening should be continued as long as a woman health status is good
- Women should be made to understand what to expect when getting a mammogram test. Moreover, clinical breast examinations are not suggested for breast cancer screening among average-risk women at any age
Screening guidelines for women at high risk:
A woman is at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should go for a breast MRI and a mammogram every year, starting at age 30, this includes women who:
- Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 25% or greater
- With a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Have a first degree-relative -parent, sister, or child with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Had radiation therapy of the chest between the ages of 10 and 30 years
- Women with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome
A mammogram is a low-energy X-ray of the breast, that helps the doctors to diagnose breast cancer at an initial stage when treatment is most successful. A mammogram can find breast changes that can be cancerous years before any prominent physical symptoms occur. Several studies have revealed that women who opt for regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer detected early, are less likely to need intensive treatment like surgery to remove the breast(mastectomy) and chemotherapy and are more likely to be completely cured.
In recent years, a newer type of mammogram called digital breast tomosynthesis (3D mammography) are more precise and find breast cancers in women with more dense breasts.
Clinical Breast Exam And Breast Self-Exam
Women should be known how their breasts normally look and feel and must immediately report any changes to the doctor right away. Start self-examination as early as 17-18 years of age. Understand and look and feel of your breast to find out any change or abnormality:
Swelling of all or part of breast (even if no prominent lump is felt).
Breast or nipple pain
Nipple retraction (turning inward)
Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast area
Clinical exams or regular self-exams may help women remarkably to keep track of how their breasts look and feel.