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Detecting Breast Cancer Early With Annual Mammograms

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After the age of 40, yearly mammograms are key in early detection. Women of all ages should participate in monthly self-exams. There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. A screening exam is used for women who currently show no signs of cancer. A diagnostic exam is for women who have displayed abnormal results in a screening exam.

The Importance of an Annual Mammogram

The statistics surrounding breast cancer and women are staggering. One out of every eight women will get breast cancer. Breast cancer is the No. 2 killer of women, beat out only by lung cancer. Early detection is important in the battle against breast cancer. If found in an early localized stage, the survival rate is nearly 100 percent.

Treatment by Stage

Stages of breast cancer are defined by the magnitude of cancer in the body. The size and location of the cancer as well as how far it has spread into other parts of the body are considered. If a cancer is said to be invasive, then it has moved beyond the point of origin in the milk duct to the breast tissue itself.

Stage 0 is not considered cancer but there is evidence of abnormal cells in the milk duct. This is a non-invasive stage that does not require surgery or radiation. Careful monitoring for additional growth and hormone therapy may be prescribed.

Stage 1A means the tumor is small and the cancer has not spread.

Stage 1B means the lymph nodes are showing signs of cancerous cells but the breast tumor is nonexistent or very small. Detection at this point makes treatment very effective. Cancer caught in Stage 1 can be treated with surgery and/or radiation, but typically chemotherapy is not required. The survival rate is 98 percent.

The survival rate for Stage 2 cancer dips to 85 percent, and treatment becomes more aggressive.

Stage 3 breast cancer can become inoperable when the cancer has spread to the point that surgery alone will not remove it. Stage 3 is treatable with aggressive actions such as mastectomy and chemotherapy. Survival rates continue to decline.

Breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as heart, lungs and brain, is considered Stage 4. Stage 4 is incurable, but treatments are available that extend the life of the cancer patient.

Early Detection Options

The earlier the detection, the less aggressive the treatment required. In order to succeed with early detection, women must have regular exams. Women up to age 40 should have a clinical breast exam done at least every 3 years. After the age of 40, yearly mammograms are key in early detection. Women of all ages should participate in monthly self-exams.

A clinical breast exam is performed by a doctor or medical staff member, usually during an annual wellness check. The medical professional will first look for changes or abnormalities in the breast, then they will palpate the breast tissue, feeling for lumps.

There are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. A screening exam is used for women who currently show no signs of cancer. The breast tissue is X-rayed using a mammography machine. A diagnostic exam is for women who have displayed abnormal results in a screening exam. Three-dimensional mammography is now available.

The Right Timing

There are many options for obtaining a yearly mammogram. Hospitals, specialty clinics and mobile screening centers make it convenient for women to find a time and place for annual mammograms. All facilities, stationary or mobile, should be accredited by the American College of Radiology to ensure a quality screening.

Breast self-exams should be completed once a month at home. A self-exam is similar to the clinical exam. It starts with a visual exams to identify abnormalities, such as changes in size, discoloration or rippling of the skin, followed by skin palpation of each breast feeling for lumps follows.

Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer will also help with early detection. These signs include changes in appearance, texture and discharge from the nipple. If any of these signs and symptoms occur, further testing is necessary.

The fact that 12 percent of all women will get breast cancer in their lifetime is daunting but knowing that early detection can provide a survival rate of nearly 100 percent is comforting. Frequent exams are the only way to achieve early detection. Schedule your exam today.

Adrienne Erin

Adrienne is a freelance writer navigating her first pregnancy. You can read more of her work on her blog Foodie Fitness, or follow her on Twitter as @foodierx.

Adrienne Erin

Adrienne is a freelance writer navigating her first pregnancy. You can read more of her work on her blog Foodie Fitness, or follow her on Twitter as @foodierx.

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Małgorzata Borgula
Małgorzata Borgula 5pts

Since when Ayurveda recommends mammograms?! I thought it was natural and not harmful methods website. It undermines your credibility.

Bint Ahmed
Bint Ahmed 5pts

mammogram radiation can actually cause breast cancer

Jodi Weber
Jodi Weber 5pts

Thermography can show inflammation in the body and detect cancer years before a mammogram can. Zero radiation!!! Can also get images of the mouth..where a lot of cancers originate from dental procedures.

Sariri Kallpa
Sariri Kallpa 5pts

Can't believe you are promoting mammograms!!!! \U0001f615

Sarah Langer
Sarah Langer 5pts

Except that the radiation can actually cause breast cancer. There are other ways to detect breast cancer that are safe.

Karen Antcliff-Vale
Karen Antcliff-Vale 5pts

Thermograms are a type of imaging that captures infrared images of heat that radiates off a person's body. Please google for more specific information. I go to the Born Clinic in Grand Rapids Michigan for mine. They are an integrative medicine clinic. There are many of these clinics and doctors who practice integrative medicine. Search on. Line for one near you and good luck...it is worth the time, money and effort when it comes to your health. Blessings to you and your mom.

Josh Bare
Josh Bare 5pts

This is quite irresponsible of a health site. you have 49 shares of very poor health information. take this down. it's OK to be wrong now and again, but try not to make it a habit - it's important to people to get the right information about their health and they trust what you say.

Josh Bare
Josh Bare 5pts

Use thermography or ultrasound. If you squish and irradiate your breasts enough times, you'll find what you're looking for alright - by design. Next thing you know they'll be giving cancer patients carcinogenic chemicals to cure them. :/

Vina Shah
Vina Shah 5pts

No sometimes even Mamogram don't reveal tumour ,,, we can diagnose clinically.

Mack Lettiemaschaum
Mack Lettiemaschaum 5pts

What is that.. share.. I would love to know where to get the examination:) I am slick afraid. I shouldn't be and for the most part strong.. My mom is a survivor!

Kat Yeatman
Kat Yeatman 5pts

Good info however there are safer ways than a mammogram to detect. I'm surprised a holistic site like this promotes mammograms over ultrasound for example

Natalia Škoda
Natalia Škoda 5pts

Ava-Miranda Stone not sure if this is any way helps your paper!