Top 3 steps you can take to detect breast cancer before it is too late in Albany, New York
The goal of screening exams for early breast cancer detection is to find cancer before it starts to cause symptoms. "Screening" refers to tests and exams to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms. Early detection tests for breast cancer save many thousands of lives each year.
What are the three keys to beating breast cancer?
Number ONE: For women over the age of 40, an annual mammogram is the most important step you can take to stop breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. A mammogram finds tumors that are too small to feel and thus, the tumor can be detected before it spreads to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. A mammogram may also find ductal carcinoma in situ, abnormal cells in the lining of a breast duct, which may become invasive cancer in some women.
Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
Number TWO: A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor. The doctor will feel the breasts and under arms for lumps and enlarged lymph nodes. The most common sign of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to under arm lymph nodes and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.
Clinical breast exams are recommended about every three years for women in their 20's and 30's adn every year for women 40 and older. While a clinical breast exam by a doctor is an important part of the screening for breast cancer, there is a good chance you will not detect breast cancer with a clinical breast exam alone. A clinical breast exam without a mammogram can miss the opportunity to detect many breast cancers that are too small for a women or her doctor to feel but can be seen on mammogram.
Number THREE: The American Cancer Society recommends that some women--because of risk factors--be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms.
In women with a high risk of breast cancer, screening with breast MRI scans have proven more effective than mammography for finding breast tumors. Breast MRI may be used to study breast lumps or enlarged lymph nodes found during a clinical breast exam.
Breast MRI machines produce higher quality images than MRI machines designed for head, chest or abdominal MRI scanning. Many hospitals and imaging centers do not have dedicated breast MRI machines available, but most insurance policies will pay for breast MRI's for women at high risk for breast cancer.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
Your risk of getting breast cancer increases as you get older. About 2 out of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.
About 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, resulting directly from gene defects (called mutations) inherited from a parent. Women whose close blood relatives (mother or sister) have breast cancer have a high risk for this cancer. Having a first degree relative with breast cancer almost doubles a women's risk.
A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3 to 4 fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast.
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