Breast Cancer: The Importance of Early Detection

Early Detection and Breast Cancer Treatment

With about 1 in 8 women developing breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, it is important for women to be informed and vigilant about their breast health. In light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the health experts at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital are here to share everything you need to know about the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Who is at An Increased Risk for Breast Cancer?

When it comes to determining your likelihood of developing breast cancer, it is important to consider the following factors that may leave you at an increased risk:

Being a Woman

Being a woman is the number one risk factor for developing breast cancer. Although men can develop breast cancer, women account for roughly 99% of new breast cancer diagnoses in the United States every year.

In 2021 over 280,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer have been diagnosed in women, with only about 2,600 new cases diagnosed in men.

Age

Like most forms of cancer, the older you get, the more likely you are to develop breast cancer. When it comes to breast cancer, roughly 2 out of 3 new cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 55.

Family History of Breast cancer

Having a close family member who has or has had breast cancer significantly increases your risk of developing it. Having a first-degree relative like a parent or sibling who has had breast cancer makes you twice as likely to develop it.

Genetic Factors

Having certain genes can also increase your likelihood of developing breast cancer. If you carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Having Dense Breast Tissue

Women with fibrous breast tissue are also more likely to develop breast cancer than those with less dense tissue. This means that the breasts have more glandular tissue than fatty tissue. This more dense tissue leaves you 2 times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Early Detection through Routine Screenings

When it comes to effectively treating breast cancer, early detection is extremely important. From having routine exams to checking your body over for abnormalities, paying attention to your breast health can ensure more favorable outcomes.

Have Annual Mammograms

Mammograms use a special machine to take X-ray images of your breast tissue to help detect abnormalities. During a mammogram, a technologist will place your breast between two plastic plates where the tissue will then be flattened for imaging. This is done both vertically and horizontally and is then repeated on the other side.

It is recommended that women begin getting annual mammograms around the age of 45.

Perform Routine Self-Exams

Along with having routine mammograms during your well-woman exams, it is also important to check your breast tissue for lumps and bumps at home. While it is recommended that women start getting mammograms later on in life, it is advised that women of all ages perform self-breast exams at home at least once a month to check for changes in their breast tissue.

When performing a self-breast exam, be sure to:

  • With your arm raised, feel your breast tissue for abnormalities while showering.
  • Look in the mirror for visible changes in your breast tissue.
  • While lying down, palpate your breast tissue for bumps or lumps.

Listen to Your Body

Along with the telltale lumps and bumps, there is a barrage of other symptoms that can be an early indicator of breast cancer. If you notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to contact your OBGYN to schedule an appointment as soon as possible:

  • Thickening of part of your breast tissue.
  • Dimpling of the skin on your breast.
  • Flaking skin around the nipple.
  • The nipple pulling inward.
  • New nipple discharge not related to breast milk.
  • Changes in the size or shape of your breast.
  • Pain in your breast.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Depending on the type of breast cancer you have, its severity, and how far it has spread, there are several different courses of treatment available. More often than not, people diagnosed with breast cancer will have one or more of the following treatments:

  • Surgery: The cancerous tissue is surgically removed.
  • Chemotherapy: Special medications are administered to shrink or kill off cancerous cells.
  • Hormonal therapy: The hormones that help cancerous cells grow are blocked.
  • Biological therapy: This is done to help your body fight off cancerous cells and control side effects from other treatments.
  • Radiation therapy: High energy rays are used to kill off cancerous cells.

In addition to these treatment options, complementary and alternative medicine practices are also used to treat breast cancer.

If you have any additional questions about your individual breast cancer risk or other questions concerning your breast health, be sure to reach out to your OBGYN.

Women’s Health Services in Ridgecrest, California

At Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Women’s Health Services department, you can rest assured knowing that your needs are in the most capable hands. Our experienced and compassionate women’s healthcare physicians are dedicated to providing each patient with the attentive and personalized care that they deserve.

You can rely on our women’s healthcare team for:

  • Birth control
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Menopause assistance
  • Mammography
  • Breast cancer and ovarian cancer treatment and screenings

To learn more about our women’s health services or schedule an appointment, visit our website or give us a call at (760) 446-3551.