Understanding Medical Problems

Tips For Finding Breast Cancer Earlier

The risk of developing breast cancer can be a major concern for some women. Catching cancer when it is in the earlier stages is a matter of being vigilant and proactive about your breast health and doing screenings suggested by your doctor.

Do Self-Exams

Self-exams remain the most proactive way of finding breast cancer or other breast abnormalities. You should learn the appropriate time to perform your self-exam and do them regularly so you become accustomed to how your breasts normally feel and can differentiate between changes that occur in relation to your cycle. It is recommended you perform your self-exams a few days after your period begins and consistently preform your self-exam at this time. Since hormones can drastically affect your breasts and contribute to lumpiness or swelling, checking at other times throughout your cycle can give you false positives. In addition to feeling your breasts, you should look at them in a mirror to see if you notice an "orange peel" texture or other textural abnormalities.

Consider Genetic Testing

Although genetic testing will not help you detect breast cancer earlier, it may be useful in determining your screening guidelines. Women who are positive for the BRCA mutation need to have routine mammograms at an earlier age. You should be especially concerned about genetic mutations if you have a first-degree relative with breast or ovarian cancer. Genetic testing is a highly personal choice. Some people feel more empowered knowing, regardless if the results are positive for the mutation, whereas others know they would not handle the information well if they did have the BRCA mutation even though it does not guarantee you will develop cancer. It is best to speak with your gynecologist to help you decide if testing is the best approach for you.

Have Mammograms

Based on your screening schedule, you may need to have a baseline mammogram at 40 or earlier. A baseline mammogram will also be helpful to determine if your breasts are dense. Women with dense breasts may need a 3D mammogram at every screening since these tests provide better image quality and are more likely to detect abnormalities in dense breast tissue. For women with dense breasts, it is best to have the 3D mammogram at first to avoid the need for additional imaging tests. Women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer, either because of the BRCA mutation, family history, or prior breast cancer might also benefit from more advanced imaging techniques to catch cancer earlier.

There is no way to predict whether you will develop breast cancer, but you can increase your chances of catching it early if it occurs. Doing self-exams and following screening guidelines can detect cancer when it is the earlier stages. Contact a company, like Hudson Valley Imaging, for more help.