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Breast Cancer Awareness

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we thought we’d take this opportunity to bring this important disease into the spotlight. For the past 18 months or so, breast cancer and other similar diseases have taken a backseat to COVID-19 in regards to focusing on prevention. Unfortunately, many breast cancer screenings were delayed or not done at all, resulting in lower rates of early detection. 

While most women do not enjoy getting a mammogram or completing a women’s well visit, they can be live-saving appointments. Due to numerous reasons, many women have recently delayed or cancelled these appointments. However, early detection of breast cancer is so important because it typically allows for more treatment options and overall better outcomes. 

So, let’s talk about some of the screening options that help detect breast cancer:

Self-Exam

The least invasive method of detecting potential breast cancer is when a woman performs a self-examination of her breasts. It is important for a woman to know how her breasts look and feel normally so that she can detect any changes in appearance or feel any lumps. A woman should perform a self-exam of her breasts each month. 

If you do discover a lump during this exam, do not panic! It is important to remember that 8 out of 10 lumps are non-cancerous. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss any lumps or changes in your breasts. 

Clinical Exam

While regular self-exams are helpful, a clinical exam by your physician can be even more so. Your doctor has received extensive training on how to detect lumps or irregularities in your breasts. An in-office exam by your gynecologist or family physician will involve he or she checking your breasts’ physical appearance by looking for shape or size differences, skin abnormalities, and nipple changes. 

Once your doctor has checked your breasts’ appearance, he or she will feel for lumps by checking both of your breasts, collarbone area, underarms, and lymph nodes for any abnormalities or lumps. Typically, a lump must be at least the size of a pea in order to be detected by a manual exam. If a lump is detected or your doctor is suspicious about other changes, more tests will be ordered, such as a mammogram. 

Mammogram

Performing regular self-exams and undergoing clinical exams are important to help detect possible breast cancer. However, not all breast cancers can be detected based on the breast’s outward appearance, the presence of lumps, or other physical changes. Only mammography can detect tumors before a person can feel them through a manual self or clinical exam. 

A mammogram uses low-dose x-rays to examine breast tissue for lumps or other suspicious observations that might reveal the presence of breast cancer. In fact, mammograms can find breast changes that could be cancerous years before outward, physical changes develop. This allows for faster treatment, keeping the cancerous cells from growing and, thus, likely avoiding the need for aggressive treatment options. 

While a mammogram can detect breast cancer before a cancerous lump can be felt externally, it can also detect other lumps that turn out to be benign after further tests are performed on them. In fact, these lumps can simply be fatty cells, micro-calcifications, breast infections, fibroadenomas, or cysts. If a lump is detected, your doctor will order further tests, such as an ultrasound, MRI, or biopsy.

Schedule Your Screening Today!

If you have been waiting to get a women’s wellness visit or a mammogram, do not put it off any longer. Here at AllCare Medical Centers, we believe that early detection means better outcomes and more options if breast cancer is discovered. Do not delay your preventative screenings any longer. Schedule your women’s wellness visit today!