“Early detection saves lives!” How many times have you heard this line when it comes to breast cancer? Yes, it’s like a broken record repeating the same thing over and over again. But there is so much truth that it is constantly being emphasized! Why? Because so many women till this day aren’t bothering to get checked.
Cancer in any shape and form is not something you can just simply ignore. The sooner you find any signs, and get diagnosed, the better your chances of getting successful treatment. This is why it is so important to be proactive & regularly check your breasts and have a gynecological exam as well.
Ideally, you should know what they normally look and feel like so you can notice any changes. Once women hit puberty, the body goes through a lot of changes. Even before and during menstruation, there are changes which are normal, but once your cycles begin to become regular do a self-exam after each period to check if there is anything different. The American Cancer Society recommends to start checking in your 20s but it’s best if you talk with your doctor for the right time for you.
When you do a self-check, it’s best to wait 3 to 5 days after your period because before you get it, your hormones change which causes temporary thickening in your breast which will eventually go away after you’re done.
First, stand in front of a mirror. Start with checking for dimpling or any differences in terms of the shape or symmetry of your breasts.
Next, using your fingers, apply light pressure on the surface and firm pressure in the deeper tissue and check for new or unusual lumps. Now, don’t panic, not every lump means cancer, in fact, the majority of them, are benign but you must have your doctor check.
After that, check if there is any change in position or shape of your nipples and squeeze them gently – if there is any discharge, visit your doctor. Lastly, if you are still not sure if something feels different, have a self-exam with your gynecologist.
Have a Mammogram Scan:
A mammogram is an imaging test that is used to detect breast cancer. This is something you should discuss with your doctor. Usually, mammograms are done around your 40s, but if you have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, you may need to start at a younger age. The mammogram can detect if there are any potentially risky lumps. If there are, your doctor will need to do a needle aspiration or surgical biopsy to collect and test the tissue for cancer cells.
If it turns out that you do have breast cancer, the next step would be for you to discuss how far has the cancer spread and what treatments are available for your case. You will most likely need to do a number of other tests for the lymph nodes to detect the spread and what is the stage of cancer. Your gynecologist will go through with you through all these steps and find the best solution for you.
When was the last time you got checked? Scratch that, have you ever gotten checked? Are you going to get checked soon? Comment below!