Effective January 10, 2022, we have updated both hospitals' Visitation Policy: Non-COVID Pediatric patients will now be allowed one non-rotating visitor. Read the full policy for details here.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women with 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The good news for women? Early detection can give you a 99% survival rate if diagnosed at the localized stage (stage zero). It’s easy to think the outcome of cancer is out of your hands, but the truth is in early intervention. You can take control of your health and have peace of mind by scheduling regular checkups and screenings.
What is early detection?
Women who are ages 45-50 and women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer should be getting yearly breast cancer screenings. After the age of 55 that number goes down to a screening every 2 years. There are two different types of screenings for breast cancer:
- An x-ray is used to get a picture of the breast.
- The breast is compressed between two plates for imaging.
- The procedure normally takes just a few minutes to complete.
Breast MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- This technology uses radio waves and strong magnets to get a picture of the patient’s breast tissue.
- In most cases, this is a noninvasive procedure.
- The procedure can take around 45 minutes to complete.
What screening is right for me?
There are several factors that can help determine which test to request from your healthcare provider. MRIs are recommended for patients with a family history of breast cancer, especially if there is a first degree family member (a parent or sibling) that has been diagnosed. With high risk patients, both tests are sometimes utilized alongside risk assessment counseling.
Neither test reduces the mortality rate of breast cancer patients, but is crucial for early detection and intervention. One worry of radiation with mammograms is that it could cause cancer, but according to the American Cancer Society, the amount of radiation is insufficient to cause any harm. MRIs do not use any radiation for the imaging of the breast, but does use a machine that some can find claustrophobic.
The best course of action when deciding between screenings is to speak with your healthcare provider. When looking at potential screening sites, know that RMC has both mammograms and breast MRIs available. In the month of October, call 844-RMC-APPT to find out about our mammogram specials.
How do I schedule a screening?
During the month of October, you may call 844-RMC-APPT to find out about our mammogram specials.
What can I do other than yearly screenings?
If you are not at the age recommended for screenings and have no risk factors you should still be proactive about breast cancer. 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who felt a lump in their own breast. Self breast exams are essential to perform every month.
Breast Exams at Home
For all of these methods be sure to use your left hand to check your right breast and your right hand to check your left breast.
- While in the shower, use the flats of your three fingers to check your entire breast. Use varying degrees of pressure to look for any kind of lumps, thickening, hardened knots, or other breast changes.
- In front of your mirror, inspect your breast with your arms to your sides, then raise your arms above your head, finally place your hands on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Do not worry if your breasts are not matching exactly, that is normal! Keep an eye out for puckering of the skin, dimpling, or changes. Especially if these changes are only on the side of the breast.
- Lying down, use light, medium, and firm pressure over your entire breast and underarm area just as you did in the shower method. While lying down the breast tissue is spread out evenly and can be a good opportunity to check things out. Again, look out for any changes or abnormalities in the breast listed above.
Whenever you feel a change or a see and abnormality in your breasts, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a physician. Take your health into your hands and schedule your yearly visits while checking once a month at home.