The best protection is early detection. This quote is one of the most important reminders to every woman above the age of 40. Statistically, one in every eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. We all resonate with the pink ribbon that is an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. It is not only a symbol of awareness but to honour the survivors and to also mark and support the progress that is being made to defeat breast cancer.
Breast screening is more commonly known as mammography which is conducted using low dose x-rays of the breast tissue. This test assists in detecting breast cancers early on while they have the best chance of being treated or cured. This type of detection is usually done before the signs and symptoms of breast cancer such as lumps present themselves. This enables the treatment to be more successful if any malignancy is detected. The risk of dying from breast cancer can be greatly reduced by up to 20% in those women who have regular breast screening done.
Fortis Kalyan has some of the leading oncologists in the city and is one of the best hospitals for cancer treatment. Our team of doctors have several years of experience in dealing with all types of cancers including blood cancer and malignancies of organs such as breast, lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Women must be informed by their health care providers about the possible screening options available to them depending on their age and current health. Family history is one of the most important factors while deciding if screening is appropriate and at what age. Breast screening is not a tool to prevent breast cancer but it helps in the early detection of cancer cells thus making it easier to diagnose and treat. Although this is one of the most essential screening tests for breast cancer, women before the age of 40 should ideally weigh the benefits and risks involved in such screening tests.
An x-ray of the breast is known as a mammogram and is one of the easiest ways to detect breast cancer early much before the patient begins experiencing any symptoms. Your health care provider will recommend regular mammograms after a certain age to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. For most women, a mammogram is the ideal non-invasive test.
Our oncologists at Fortis Hospital Kalyan recommend that annual breast cancer screening done with mammograms should ideally start between the age of 40 to 44 years. Women between the age of 45 to 54 should mandatorily get mammograms every year, and women older than 55 can opt for a mammogram once every two years.
While a mammogram is a non-invasive procedure it can examine the breast for any signs of cancer. During this procedure, the breasts are compressed between two firm surfaces that enable an x-ray film to capture images of the breast tissues on a computer screen.
Mammograms should only be recommended by your doctor and should not be done frequently to avoid overexposure to radiation. The risk of radiation exposure is minimal in a mammogram.
It is always recommended to regularly examine your breasts on your own for any lumps or tissue abnormalities. A self-examination conducted regularly in combination with screening methods such as mammograms recommended by your doctor can help in early detection and prevention of the spread of malignancy.
There are a few important steps while performing a breast self-examination. You must observe the usual size, shape, and colour and keep a check for any swelling or visible distortion. Bulging of the skin or dimpling on any surface of the breast must be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately. Any kind of discharge or redness and swelling must also be alerted to your doctor. Feel all the tissues with your fingers to check for any lumps.
Many women have some lumpy areas in their breasts which need not necessarily be malignant or cancerous. But it is essential to keep your doctor informed of any new changes that you may notice rather than waiting for symptoms to arise or worsen. An appointment with your doctor will include a comprehensive case history and physical examination and if necessary, certain breast imaging tests.
It is important to learn more about the breast tissues and the more you examine them the easier it will become for you to notice any untoward changes. Our doctors recommend getting into the habit of doing a breast self-examination at least once a month.