Breast cancer can be a scary thing to think about. Breast cancer risk varies based on a variety of factors that are unique to a person, including family history and age. Still, no matter your medical history or how old you are, it is important to be alert for typical signs of breast cancer. Maybe you are concerned about lumps in the breast. You may also wonder when you should go to your healthcare provider for a breast cancer screening. Continue reading to understand more about breast cancer warning signs.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most important thing you can do is have breast awareness. Pay attention to changes in your breasts. If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should get your breasts examined. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are several symptoms of breast cancer, including the following:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Scarring, rashes or moles that were not there before
People have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some people do not have any signs or symptoms at all. No breast is typical, and some of the above symptoms can occur for conditions that are unrelated to breast cancer. That is why it is important to get a breast cancer screening to remove any doubt. If you experience any symptoms or if you’re concerned at all, it is best to get screened. The most dangerous thing you can do is hope that it will simply go away.
What Is A Breast Cancer Screening?
According to the International Journal of Cancer, early detection of breast cancer through organized screening in average-risk women has reduced mortality from the disease by 20 percent. If you’ve never had a clinical breast examination, you may be wondering what to expect during a breast cancer screening. Here are a few things you can typically expect.
- The typical length for a screening, including the mammogram, is about 30 minutes.
- A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. Mammograms may be a bit uncomfortable for some women, but they are the best way to find cancer early and having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
- What types of questions are asked during a breast cancer screening?
- Ochsner uses specific questions to assess each patient’s individual breast cancer risk.
- The questions range from age of first period, height, weight, childbearing history, menopause status, hormone replacement therapy and family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Most early detected cancers are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and are picked up during cancer screenings. Therefore, it is important that women get annual screening mammograms.
Age for Breast Cancer Screenings
- The Centers for Disease Control states that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer should get a mammogram every two years.
- Women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.
- For those who are younger and have a higher risk due to family history of breast cancer and other cancers, screening is recommended to begin at 25 years old or 10 years before the age of the earliest affected relative in your family.
- If you are younger and you’re experiencing symptoms of breast cancer without prior family history, talk to a healthcare professional about your concerns.
To learn more about cancer screenings at Ochsner Health, visit ochsner.org/cancer-screenings.