October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. This is the month when there will be numerous events all designed to raise money for breast cancer research, and this is most likely the month when your doctor will remind you to get your mammogram. Do you need a mammogram?
Mammograms and Your Age
If you are over the age of 40, you definitely need a mammogram every year, regardless of family history or your personal history. This is also regardless of your lifestyle or habits. There have been studies that suggest that you do not need a mammogram until you are at least fifty if there is no history of any problems, but this is a highly debatable issue that the American Cancer Society does not agree with.
Mammograms and Your Family History
If your mother, a grandmother, or a great-grandmother had any form of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or cervical cancer, you should get a mammogram every year past the age of thirty.
Unfortunately, not all insurance companies see things this way – and the people writing the policies for that company probably don’t have medical degrees, and have never experienced breast cancer. This means that you may actually have to pay full price for your mammogram, but due to the importance of this test, you can view it as money well spent.
Mammograms and Your Own Medical History
Do you smoke? You need a mammogram. Do you take birth control pills? You need a mammogram. Have you ever had a lump? Do you do self checks each month? Have you ever had any type of cancer, or even a cancer scare that turned out to be nothing? You probably need a mammogram.
Your doctor is the best person to give you advice on whether you need a mammogram or not, based on numerous factors that include your family history, your medical history, your lifestyle, and your age. Even if he or she does not recommend this important test, if you will have greater peace of mind having one done, get one. Always go with your gut instinct!
October is a good time to schedule your mammogram, but another good time to do this is around your birthday each year. This makes it easy to remember to schedule. Make sure that you get a referral from your doctor for the test if your insurance company requires this.
Breast Cancer: Staying Informed
Breast cancer affects both men and women although the majority of cases are in women. It is important that both males and females be aware of the signs of breast cancer and obtains medical attention if they exhibit any of the signs. Due to the increase in public awareness and fund raising efforts to help finance research the survival rates for breast cancer have increased, much of which is credited to earlier detection of the disease.
Why You Need to Know the Signs of Breast Cancer
You need to know the signs of breast cancer quite simply to save your life. Since both men and women have breasts they are both susceptible to the disease. When you know the signs and identify them early you are able to seek the advice of your doctor early and be tested for early signs of the cancer. Breast cancer left untreated can spread to other parts of the body and it is a deadly disease.
Signs of Breast Cancer
Every person should do a monthly breast examination. This will help you become familiar with your own breasts and better equip you to identify any change that occurs. If you find any variation during your monthly breast examination you should see your doctor, regardless of whether or not you have just had a mammogram.
Signs of Breast Cancer can include:
- A lump in the breast. This does not need to be a large lump, a lump of any size or even a thickening of the tissue that is different than your previous self-examination.
- Discharge from the nipple. This can be bloody discharge or any discharge other than breast milk. If you should not be lactating, see your doctor.
- Skin changes in the breast. Dimpling, pitting, redness or any other change noted of the skin of the breast requires a physician’s examination.
- A change in the size of the breast. Including the shape of the breast, changes in size or shape can indicate a problem.
- Nipple changes. This can be an inverted nipple or a change in the skin of the nipple such as flaking or peeling skin.
- Breast pain or extreme tenderness.
Identifying the Signs of Breast Cancer Early for Improved Outcomes
If you exhibit signs and symptoms of breast cancer and have them evaluated, you stand an improved chance of obtaining an early diagnosis of breast cancer. This means the cancer can be found in early stages which offer you a greater chance of a favorable outcome from treatment. One of the key elements in breast cancer treatment is identifying the cancer early and getting treatment immediately for success. Continue to have your yearly mammogram and physician examination but do not rely on once a year screenings as your only method to help detect breast cancer, do your monthly examinations to improve your chances of early detection of the signs of breast cancer.