The Importance of Early Detection in Breast Cancer
October 16, 2023
How Regular Breast Cancer Screenings Could Improve Your Prognosis
Breast Cancer is the fifth leading cause of death for women worldwide, with over 240,000 new cases reported every year in the United States alone. For any person that has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, your chances of a positive prognosis are greatly increased the earlier the cancer is detected. For this reason, regular Breast Cancer screenings are so important.
With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to take the time to spread awareness about the disease and go over some vital information regarding breast cancer screening and diagnoses and the importance of getting regular mammograms. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast Cancer is a type of Cancer that originates in the cells of breast tissue and is most common in women and individuals assigned female at birth. Like all types of Cancer, Breast Cancer develops when normal cells begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, which leads to a tumor in the breast. As the Cancer progresses, it can spread to other parts of the body, including:
- The bloodstream
- The lymphatic system
- Surrounding tissues
While there is no definitive cause for Breast Cancer, there are some risk factors to be aware of. This includes:
- Sex – Women and individuals assigned female at birth are at a higher risk
- Age – Risk increases after menopause
- Family History – Those with close family members that have had breast cancer may have inherited gene mutations
- Hormone Replacement Therapy – Long-term use of hormone therapy increases risk
Important Breast Cancer Facts
Did you know that both men and women can be diagnosed with Breast Cancer? It’s true. In fact, it’s estimated that 2,100 men are diagnosed with Breast Cancer each year in the U.S., and 500 will die from the disease.
Here are a few more important statistics about Breast Cancer to familiarize yourself with:
- The median age of people diagnosed with Breast Cancer is 63.
- Women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer more than any other type of cancer (except for Skin Cancer).
- The number of women dying from breast cancer has decreased by 43% since 2020 thanks to advancements in Cancer treatments and early detection.
- The five-year relative survival rate for non-metastatic invasive breast cancer in women is 91%.
- 2,261,419 women around the world were diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2020.
Breast Cancer Symptoms To Look Out For
While it’s usually recommended that you start getting regular mammograms before you have the chance to develop Breast Cancer symptoms, you should always be in tune with your body and pay close attention to any physical changes. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of Breast Cancer to look out for:
- Pain in the breast
- A lump in the armpit that does not go away
- Blood or discharge coming out of the nipple
- A firm, moveable lump in the breast that does not go away
- Redness or flaky skin on the breast and/or nipple area
- Sudden changes to the size and/or the shape of the breast
- Thickening or swelling of the breast
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, particularly any lumps in the breast, we recommend booking an appointment with your doctor right away to discuss scheduling a screening test to investigate further.
Why Early Detection Is So Important
As with any type of Cancer, the earlier Breast Cancer is detected and diagnosed, the better the prognosis. The reason for this is that as Cancer advances, it begins to spread to other parts of the body and becomes more difficult to treat. When the Cancer is isolated to the breast tissue, it can often be completely eradicated with a mastectomy combined with other cancer treatments, depending on the size and severity of the Cancer.
Types of Breast Cancer Screening Tests
A mammogram is the most common Breast Cancer screening tool available and uses an X-ray to scan breast tissue to look for potential tumors. mammograms are incredibly effective at detecting Breast Cancer early on. In fact, mammograms can often detect a tumor two years before the patient would develop a noticeable lump or begin experiencing symptoms.
There are two main types of mammograms – diagnostic and screening. Screening mammograms are a routine procedure used to detect breast cancer in cases where there are no signs or symptoms yet. Diagnostic mammograms are performed in cases where a Screening mammogram found signs of Breast Cancer in the patient and more in-depth testing is needed. Additional tests, such as an ultrasound or core-needle biopsy, may also be performed depending on the findings from the mammogram procedure.
When To Start Getting Screened For Breast Cancer
While recommendations vary across different states and medical organizations, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women who are considered at “average risk” of developing breast cancer should begin getting an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40.
However, if you are under the age of 40 but have a history of Breast Cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about when is the best time to start getting screened for Breast Cancer, as they may recommend getting annual mammograms much sooner.
If you are over the age of 40, have a family history of Breast Cancer, or are experiencing symptoms and need to schedule a mammogram, get in touch with our medical diagnostics department at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital (SMH).
SMH is an independent critical access hospital based in Manistique, MI with some of the most comprehensive medical imaging technology in the Upper Peninsula. We offer state-of-the-art mammograms using the Genius 3D from Hologic performed by our team of highly-qualified ARRT board-certified technologists.
Contact us today to learn more about our medical diagnostic services and how to schedule your next mammogram.
Medical Imaging Department: 906-341-3262
Rural Health Clinic: 906-341-2153