Recommendations for Women at Average and High Risk
The best way to attack and beat breast cancer is to detect it early and receive treatment. However, it is not until the first symptoms begin that many patients first visit their doctor.
Probably, when the symptoms arrive, the cancer is likely to be dispersed, making treatment difficult and aggravating the risk. Therefore, health professionals encourage the practice of early detection screening tests.
What is early detection?
Early detection involves finding and diagnosing cancer before you have any symptoms. Cancers found at this stage are usually smaller and confined to the breast. Both the size and extent of the cancer are two very important factors when establishing the patient’s prognosis or life expectancy.
That’s why it is important to get screened. The American Cancer Society developed guidelines for breast cancer screening in women at average and high risk.
Women at average risk:
· Have no personal history of breast cancer.
· Have no family history of significant breast cancer.
· Have no known genetic mutation that increases the risk of this cancer.
· Have not received radiation therapy to the thorax before age 30.
Women at high risk:
· Have a 20-25 % or greater risk of breast cancer.
· Have a mutation of the BRCA1 gene or BRCA2 gene.
· Have undergone radiation therapy to the thorax area between the ages of 10 and 30.
· Have Li-Fraumeni, Cowden, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have close relatives with one of these syndromes.
Early detection test for women at average risk: Mammograms
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breasts and can be very effective in detecting the cancer in its early stage.
· Women aged 40-44 can start early detection with an annual mammogram.
· Women aged 45-54 should undergo an annual mammogram.
· Women aged 55 and older can have a mammogram every 2 years or have it annually.
Early detections tests for women at high risk: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and annual mammogram
· It must be done from the age of 30.
· Continue these tests as long as the woman is in good health.
· It is crucial to perform both tests because cancer detected by the mammogram may not be detected by the MRI.
Breast self-exams or breast self-exploration
Although these early screening tests are primarily recommended and very effective, breast self-exams are an excellent screening method. It consists of familiarizing yourself with your breasts, feeling them regularly, to identify anomalies.
Steps for Breast Self-exams
Stand in front of the mirror, look at your breasts, and ask yourself: Do they look normal in size, shape, and color? Do they have any distortions or swelling?
What is not normal:
· Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
· A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple
· Redness or swelling
· Soreness or rash
Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Look for any signs of fluid coming out of any nipple, this could be a watery, yellow or milky fluid, or blood.
Lie down and feel your breasts with your hands inverted (your left hand on your right breast and vice versa). Your touch should be firm and circular, located in an area the size of a coin. Inspect the entire breast. Feel both superficial and deep tissue. To reach the deep tissue, exert greater pressure, feeling the thorax.
Feel the breasts while standing or sitting, repeating Step 4.
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