Across all life stages there are some things we all have in common ... and some worries that we all share. Breast cancer is one of those common threads. There is so much publicity and discussion on breast health all over the internet—some of it is not correct—and we want to provide one place where our patients can come and get the right information.
From breast self exams, to when you should start having mammograms, to what to do if your mammogram comes back with an irregularity—your doctor at The Woman's Clinic wants to make sure that you are fully informed of your options.
The Call No Woman Wants To Get
As much as you might really like your OB/GYN, you really don't want to get a phone call that starts off "This is doctor ... "
When it is followed by "there is an abnormality in your recent mammogram," it can make your head spin. You may not hear anything else. We are here to tell you to take a deep breath. Once a radiologist detects an abnormality, there are some next steps—your doctor will schedule an ultrasound, another mammogram or a compression mammogram. These tests determine if there is a need for a biopsy.
The good news is that the odds are in your favor—only five to fifteen percent of screening mammograms require more testing such as additional mammograms or ultrasound. Most of these tests turn out to be normal. If there is an abnormal finding, a follow-up or biopsy may have to be performed. Most of the biopsies confirm that no cancer was present.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
There are some risk factors you can be aware of that may increase your chances of getting breast cancer. If you have the following history, please advise your TWC physician:
- Certain genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) passed on from parents
- Breast cancer in mother, daughter, or sister
- No term pregnancies or pregnancy later in life (age 30 years or older)
- Early menstruation (younger than age 12 years)
- Late menopause (age 55 years or older)
- Never breastfed a child
These factors also may increase the risk of breast cancer for some women:
- Personal history of cancer of the breast, endometrium, ovary, or colon
- Postmenopausal obesity
- Alcohol intake
- Recent hormone therapy
- Recent use of birth control pills
- Tall stature Jewish heritage
Mammograms should only be part of your breast care. Self breast exams should be part of your monthly routine. Talk with your gynecologist at The Woman's Clinic if you notice any of these physical signs:
- Unexplained lump or thickening in the breast or in the armpit
- Puckers, dimples, redness, or other changes in the skin of the breast
- Discharge or bleeding that comes from the nipple
- A recent change in the nipple, such as a retracted nipple (a nipple that has pulled inward)
If you have any questions be sure to speak to your physician.