A Step Ahead – Early Breast Cancer Detection
Do you feel the need to be active and remain fit? Well, it is also equally important to know your body in an intimate way. Similarly, knowing the shape and feel of your breasts can help you detect abnormal changes in your mammaries. Such close breast awareness is useful for initiating early breast cancer diagnosis.
Breast cancer is a medical condition wherein the breast cells grow out of control. The cancer cells can spread in the body, outside the breast, via lymph vessels or blood vessels. When breast cancer starts to spread to other body parts, it is medically said to have 'metastasized'.
Breast Cancer Symptoms
The common most symptom of breast cancer is the formation of a new lump or mass in the breast area(painful or painless). Even slight changes in breast size or shape can also signal cancerous growth. Therefore, it is essential to get yourself checked by a reputed doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating breast cancer.
Other Breast Cancer Symptoms include:
- Swelling of a part of the breast or the whole breast
- Developing dimpling or skin irritation in the breast area
- Having breast pain or pain sensation in the nipple
- Retraction of the nipple (inwards turn)
- Noticing reddish breast skin or peculiar thickness in the nipple
- Liquid discharge from the nipple
A mammogram is the procedure using low-intensity X-rays to study the human breast. Mammography is used to diagnose and screen breasts for the early detection of cancer. During the procedure, you are made to stand in front of an X-ray machine and an experienced technologist will ask you to place the breast on a clear plate (plastic). Another clear plate will be pressed on your breast from above to flatten the breast and hold it still for the X-ray. To take the side view X-ray, the process is repeated from sideways. Four X-rays are taken and the technologist checks them for any error.
Mammograms can be recommended for women who are at risk of getting the disease or for women who have been checked by a general doctor for symptoms of breast cancer. The result of a mammogram is presented within thirty days.
Breast Cancer Screening Tests
Screening tests are conducted when an individual does not exhibit any symptoms. While mammography is the most advisable screening test for breast cancer, other tests are also being studied such as tissue sampling and thermography and regular clinical trials are carried out by scientists.
MRI or Magnetic resonance imaging is suggested in cases of women with a high breast cancer risk. A breast biopsy test can also be conducted that involves the removal of tissue or fluid from the area under suspicion. The cells are then examined to check the presence of cancer. A biopsy is a diagnostic process that can provide definite result of cancerous existence in the suspected area.
The decision to get a screening for breast cancer checkup near your area may depend on you. But, the plan to use a specific screening test depends on underlying medical factors and the oncologist doctor who is treating you.
Blood Test for Breast Cancer Detection
Doctors may suggest blood marker tests, which are special blood tests (cancer or tumor markers) to find the presence of any cancer activity in the body. There are typically two types of markers Tru-Quant - CA 27:29, and it may mean that the tested body contains breast cancer cells.
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines 2018
Screening mammography has been fairly successful after its launch in the year 1988 in Canada. The tests are done in order to assist oncologists to review the situation. Guidelines pertaining to screening mammography are necessary to assess the advantages and disadvantages of these tests. For example, the benefit of modern technological advances, the risk of over-diagnosis, risk of false positive reports, and risk of false negative reports can be evaluated. Experts feel that if women between the ages of 40 to 75 years of age participate in breast cancer screening done once in every year, then the mortality rate may be reduced by almost 40%.
General Breast Cancer Guidelines
- Women in the age group of 40 to 44 years should be given the choice to begin an annual breast cancer screening
- Women between the age of 45 to 54 years should ideally get mammogram X-ray done every year
- Women who are 55 years and above should get mammograms done every two years
- Women of all ages should be familiar with the advantages, limitations and potential risk linked to the screening tests for breast cancer.
- Women must also be aware of how their breasts look normally and report any peculiar changes in the breast area.
Women with a family history of breast cancer should be screened with MRI testing and mammograms. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider about your related risks and optimum screening program for you.
How to determine breast cancer?
You can visit a doctor and get a breast exam done for lumps or any other abnormalities. Doctors may also check the armpits for abnormal lymph nodes. Other tests include mammogram, breast ultrasound, biopsy, and breast MRI.
Can you detect breast cancer with a blood test?
Yes, you can detect cancerous cells through blood marker tests to uncover cancerous activity in the body.
What is the very first symptom of breast cancer?
A painful or painless lump in your breast region or the underarm that does not go away even after your monthly periods can be the first sign of breast cancer.