Breast cancer is the 5th leading cause of death among women over the age of 40. However, if diagnosed at its earliest stages, breast cancer is not fatal, and statistics show that there is actually has a very high survival rate. This is why it is so important to inform the public on issues such as early detection, symptoms, risk factors and healthy habits to help ward off breast cancer.
Women of all ages are advised to administer self-breast exams on a monthly basis. Starting this at a young age familiarizes you with your own normal breast tissue; this will make you more capable of noticing an irregularity such as a lump, if it should ever occur. Risk of breast cancer increases with age, which is why women should begin getting mammograms once they turn 40, on an annual or bi-annual basis. If you have an immediate relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer you should talk to your doctor about when you should start receiving mammograms, as they may want you to begin earlier. When breast cancer firsts strikes it may not have any signs or symptoms, which would make it impossible to pick up on a self-exam. However, mammograms (X-rays of the breast) can pick up on breast cancer in its earliest stage; this makes them a doctor’s best chance to diagnose breast cancer early.
There are some common symptoms that many women experience when they have breast cancer. The symptoms below do not necessarily indicate breast cancer, but they can be a warning sign and should probably be checked out by a doctor just in case:
- A new lump or bump in the breast or underarm
- Any discharge from the nipple
- Irritation or dimpling of the breast skin
- Change in breast size or shape
- Inversion or pulling of the nipple
- Flaky skin or (abnormal) redness in the nipple and/or breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Finally, I would like to give you a small and important tip that when going to the yearly checkup of breast cancer, make sure that the person who is doing the mammography is whether a professional specialized doctor or a woman in order not to risk yourself to be sexually abused since we hear lots of stories.