The month the world goes pink is upon us again. From football fields to department stores and restaurants, the nation as a whole looks a little more Pepto-Bismol colored, and for good reason.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
“While the numbers are intimidating, there is much one can do to ensure overall breast health,” said Dr. Summa Satti, Hematology/Oncology, Ochsner Medical Center. “Knowing the signs and symptoms of how breast cancer manifests is an important step to early detection and treatment.”
Signs and Symptoms:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
“However, knowing the symptoms can’t supplement regular mammogram testing when the time is right,” said Dr. Satti. Below are the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer guidelines for mammograms.
- Women with an average risk of breast cancer – most women – should begin yearly mammograms at age 45.
- Women should be able to start the screening as early as age 40, if they want to. It’s a good idea to start talking to your health care provider at age 40 about when you should begin screening.
- At age 55, women should have mammograms every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
- Regular mammograms should continue for as long as a woman is in good health.
- Breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended.
The guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. Women at high risk – because of family history, a breast condition, or another reason – need to begin screening earlier and/or more often.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms call and make an appointment with your physician today.