Have You Checked Your Breasts Lately?
By : Dawn Bowman
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s more than just a time to help raise money for breast cancer charities and research into the cause, prevention, treatment, and cure of breast cancer. October is also a time to increase awareness of breast cancer, which makes it a great time to remind yourself and the women in your life to check your breasts.
Types Of Breast Cancer Screening
Depending upon your age and any risk factors for breast cancer, (family history, BRCA, etc.), different types of breast cancer screening may be recommended for you.
Breast Exam – A breast exam is a visual inspection of the breasts as well as palpation (feeling) of the breasts. You can do a self exam or visit a medical professional for a clinical breast exam. If you have a yearly physical with your doctor, they will likely do a clinical breast exam automatically. For women without a family history of breast cancer, a monthly self breast exam is recommended.
Mammogram – During a mammogram, radiography is used to capture images of breast tissue. The breasts are x-rayed and the resulting x-rays are then sent to a radiologist to check. Mammograms may be digital images or on photographic film. For women without specific risk factors for breast cancer, who are over 50 years old, a yearly mammogram may be recommended. For women with certain risk factors, a yearly mammogram may be advised starting at age 30.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging – MRI may be able to detect cancers that are not visible on mammograms due to their small size or to dense breast tissue. Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer (parent, sister, or daughter) and / or BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes may want to consider MRI screening.
Molecular Breast Imaging – MBI is a new technique involving nuclear medicine technology. It is currently being studied but may prove to be as effective as MRI screenings, with a lower cost.