According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, deaths caused by breast cancer decreased by a whopping 38% between 1989 to 2014. This is largely due to more and more women becoming aware of breast cancer as well as self-checks for breasts and mammogram screening. Mammograms are an important breast cancer screening tool that has saved countless lives. If you are wondering how often you should get a mammogram, the American Cancer Society recommends women to get a mammogram every year, starting at age 45-54.
Women at the age 55+ are still advised to get a mammogram, at least every other year (as long as they are in good health and have no breast changes of concern). Of course, if you have had cancer, or have symptoms and signs of concern, or your doctor advises it, you should have a mammogram earlier.
Signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can be very subtle at the beginning, so it is important to be aware of any bodily changes. Some common signs may include nipple tenderness, a thickening or a lump on the breast or under the arm, or skin changes such as enlarged pores that resemble the dimpling on an orange. Breast cancer may deform or change the shape of the breast; it may also involve swelling that can occur only on one side.
The breasts may no longer match, becoming much less symmetrical. It should be noted that many women initially have breasts that do not match exactly, and that is often normal. If, however, asymmetry occurs abruptly, it can be a sign of breast cancer. Additionally, there may be changes to the nipple of one or both breasts, such as puckering or the nipple turning inward or inverted. Any scaly areas, redness, skin changes, or feel of the breast should be reported to your doctor. If you have any nipple discharge, especially clear or bloody, tell your doctor.
Experiencing any of these symptoms does not automatically mean that you have breast cancer, but it is most definitely something that should be checked out by your doctor. If you do end up having cancer, the changes for a successful outcome are greater the sooner it is diagnosed. Waiting to see if symptoms go away or ignoring the issue can give cancer a foothold, allowing it to spread to other areas. When in doubt, schedule a mammogram and get it checked out.
The American Cancer Association advises women to conduct regular self-exams in the shower, lying down, or in front of a mirror. Your doctor can advise you more about self-exams and mammograms. If you, or a loved one needs a mammogram or any other imaging services, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for a mammogram, please call (561) 795-5558 today, or go online to make an appointment that could actually save your life. Our board-certified radiologists are right here in the Lake Worth, Wellington, Belle Glade, or Royal Palm Beach areas, ready to shed some light on your life.