July 15, 2019 by John Fernandez
Early Detection: It’s in Your Hands
October means cooler temperatures, pumpkin lattes and a healthy reminder. “Early detection saves lives” is heard so often during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you may be tempted to tune out. Don’t! The power to protect your life is literally in your own hands – many breast cancers are found by patients during a breast self-exam (BSE).
When detected early in the localized stage, the five-year breast cancer survival rate is 98 percent, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Women should begin breast self-exams in their 20s. Do your exam the same day each month, preferably after your period, when breasts are less tender. The American Cancer Society suggests that you lie on your back with one arm over your head and a folded towel under your shoulder. Using your fingertips, feel your way around each breast, from your underarm to your nipple and up to your collarbone, feeling for lumps under the skin.
The next step is even easier. Standing before a mirror, examine your breasts and look for:
• Lumps or swelling.
• Nipple discharge other than breast milk.
• Rash or redness.
• Skin irritation or dimpling.
• Nipple abnormalities, such as pain, redness, scaliness or turning inward.
Don’t panic if you spot something. It’s normal for breasts to change shape and color occasionally. However, do see your doctor as soon as possible.
Still unsure how to perform a self-exam? Technology is your friend. Google “breast self-exam video” for helpful hints. To download an early detection plan app for your phone, visit EarlyDetectionPlan.org.
Digital Tomosynthesis: The Next Dimension of Care
Digital tomosynthesis or 3D mammography takes early detection to the next level. Three-dimensional mammography detects abnormalities much earlier and most importantly, produces clear 3D images of breast tissue. This is especially helpful in patients with dense breast tissue. Better images also reduce the chance of patients needing a second mammogram or additional tests.