Breast cancer is one of the two most common cancers among women in the U.S. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, every year more than 245,000 women get diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from it. The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s most recent statistics estimates that 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2019, as well as 62,930 non-invasive breast cancer cases. Ultimately, that equals one in eight women. The good news is that they also report that 62% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed to be at the localized stage which has a 99% 5-year survival rate! And breast cancer death rates have been declining since 1990, due to increased awareness, improving treatment methods and most importantly early detection and better screening.
Since early detection is so important, let’s look at what you can do to detect this disease at the earliest stages possible. One of the most important things you can do is monthly breast self-exams, so that you can easily notice if there are any changes in your breast. There are a number of different symptoms you should look for during your self-exam.
Start with your nipples and note if you have tenderness or any change in the appearance of the nipple such as a nipple that is slightly inward or inverted. Look to see if the skin of the areola or nipple is red, scaly or swollen. Or if it has pitting or ridges like the skin of an orange. Check to see if there is any nipple discharge that is clear, bloody or milky.
Next, look closely at your breasts themselves. Note if there is any unexplained changes in the size or shape of the breast, such as swelling or shrinkage of the breast (especially if it is only on one side). Although it’s normal for one breast to be slightly larger than the other, note if the asymmetry changes or becomes more prominent. Note any dimpling anywhere on the breast. Pay attention to any thickening in or near the breast or underarm area. Look for lumps or masses in your breast tissues. Although all lumps are not cancerous, you should always get them checked out by a professional just in case. Other abnormalities to look for include, flaking skin patches, pain in or on the breast, any change in breast shape.
Keep in mind that while some women find symptoms of breast cancer while doing a self-exam, other people will show no symptoms at all. And that’s why getting mammograms is so important! Simply put, mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early. When caught early, the disease is easier to treat. If you are aged 50 or older, you should be getting mammograms once a year.
So contact us today at PremierMD Care to get your referral to get a mammogram. Your health and well-being is our biggest priority! Call (239)500-6363 for an appointment.