Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older. Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Some non-modifiable risk factors include; getting older, genetic mutations, reproductive history, having dense breasts, and family history. Some modifiable risk factors include; not being physically active, being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working.
Although you may not experience any of the symptoms at all, the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new breast mass that may or may not be painful. Some other symptoms include; dimpling or swelling of all or part of the breast, breast or nipple pain, nipple inversion, nipple discharge, or redness/thickening of the nipple or breast skin. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider.
It is recommended by the CDC that women 40 years of age and older get yearly mammograms. This is the most effective way to find breast cancer at an early stage. Mammograms can detect most breast cancers very early giving you a greater chance of survival and more treatment options.
Healthy breasts come in all different shapes, sizes, and textures. It is very important to know what is normal for your breasts in order to identify any alarming changes. Self-breast exams should be done at the same time every month, preferably several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you are no longer having periods, choose a day that is easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month.
- On the day of your mammogram, do not use any deodorant, lotion, cream, or powder on your underarms of breasts.
- If your breasts get tender around the time of your period, schedule your mammogram for one week after your period.
- If you had mammograms at another facility, have previous films and reports available to the radiologist at your current exam.
- Before the exam, describe any breast symptoms or problems you are having.