Medically Reviewed by Amy P. Murrell, MD
Learn the Signs and Symptoms
New diagnostic technology combined with advances in cancer treatment have significantly improved survival rates in breast cancer. But YOU can be the key to catching it early.
Let’s quickly recap the signs and symptoms to look for:
“None of these signs are a definite diagnosis of breast cancer,” says McLeod General Surgeon Dr. Amy Murrell. “But they can be a cause for concern. Your familiarity with your breasts is essential to early cancer detection. These symptoms may not be cancer – but don’t delay in reporting them to your doctor.”
Breast Cancer detection involves three steps:
Breast Self-Exam. Women are urged to regularly exam their breasts. Don’t stress out about the “proper technique.” The key issue is for you to be familiar with your breasts — their size, look and feel. Familiarity will make recognizing changes easier.
Clinical Breast Exam. As part of a regular medical exam, your personal physician is likely to examine your breasts and ask if you’ve noticed any changes lately. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years. Women, who are 40 or older, should have a clinical breast exam every year. You may want to ask your doctor about the technique he recommends for your ongoing breast self-exams.
Mammograms are very beneficial in finding breast cancer early. However, they are not infallible. Mammograms can miss some cancers or might generate results that lead to further tests. Yet, no cancer is found. The American Cancer Society says, “Despite their shortcomings, mammograms are still a very effective and valuable tool for decreasing suffering and death from breast cancer.” Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year.
Women at “high risk” include those who have:
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Breast Cancer Foundation