One of the best things you can do regularly is a monthly breast self-exam: touch your breast all over, from the nipple to under your arm, feeling every part of it. Examine your breasts with your arm down, and again with your arm up, to feel all of the glands underneath. While some breasts are more dense than others, and caffeine can make your breast tissue seem slightly lumpy, you should easily be able to tell if anything seems different than normal. A hard lump or tender spot should be examined by your doctor.
Another step you should be taking for early diagnosis is to receive an annual mammogram once you turn 35. Those with breast cancer identified in early stages have between 72 and 100 percent likelihood of recovery from the disease. During a mammogram, abnormal areas might be seen on the screen.
Whether a mammogram or a breast-tissue exam show abnormalities, to determine whether it might be cancer or not requires a follow-up test. Generally a biopsy, it might be performed either as a surgical procedure or as a needle insertion. A laboratory then identifies the makeup of the cells within the tissue sampled, and sends the primary doctor a pathology report. Depending on tumor size and type, characteristics, and other factors such as the response of lymph nodes, the doctor can then assess and discuss treatment options.
A cancer diagnosis can be a scary moment. If there’s something you’ve been meaning to get checked out, call your doctor to make an appointment, since early detection can make an incredible difference. To find out other ways to monitor any possible health problems, give us a call at 717-840-9885 or click on the button below to make an appointment.
Dr. Julie Drolet
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