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When Should I Start Screening for Breast Cancer?

When Should I Start Screening for Breast Cancer?

27 Oct 2017 Hans Lesmana Articles 43
Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer should be screened routinely in individuals at risk for breast caner.

Women ages 40-44 have the choice to start annual screening with a mammogram if they want to.
Women age 45-54 should get mammograms every year.
Women 55 and older should get mammograms every 2 years or continue yearly screening.

Every day, your body produces cells, which will eventually mature, and dies (apoptosis) in an orderly and balanced fashion of the cell cycle.  Normally, cells are produced when the body needs them, by sending signals using substances called growth factors.  However when cells go out of control overproducing them, these cells become abnormal.  They will keep growing and destroying the healthy tissue and they may spread somewhere else in the body. When these abnormal cells grow but do not spread, they are called benign tumors.  However when they have the ability to spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) this is called metastatic tumors or cancer.
The breast also contains many types of cells.  Essentially the breast is a female organ that produces milk for their offspring to feed from.  The breast is mainly composed of soft and fat tissue.  Yet there are thousands of ducts, glands, and lobules too, which are needed to produce breast milk.
These ducts, glands, and lobules are also prone to also grow in an abnormal way ending up in breast tumors and cancers.  The breast cancer may spread through out the whole body, so it is important to find and screen them early and locally before they spread out.

Breast Cancer in Indonesia
According to data by the WHO, cases of breast cancer in Indonesia is increasing compared to the data in 1990.  For every 100 000 people , 40 of them have breast cancer.  In Indonesia, women suffering breast cancer have it at a younger age, compared to our neighbor Malaysia.
Signs of Breast Cancer
  1. Search and feel for breast lumps on the chest and the axillary area (armpits).  Lumps that have been there for a long time,, does not grow and immobile are usually benign lumps. However 1 in 10 of these lumps may be cancerious.
  1. Pain in the breast and/or in the armpits
  1. A change of size and/or shape of one or both of the breasts.
  1. Liquid discharge or blood coming out of the breast’s nipple.
  1. The skin on the breast becomes bright red or shrinks.  The nipple may also be inverted inside.
Once you find any of these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor.  The earlier, the better, as treatment success is way higher when the breast cancer is found in at an early stage.
Risk Factors of Breast Cancer
We know a few risk factors for breast cancer of which are:
  1. Age. There is an increased risk of breast cancer to women over the age of 45.
  2. Genetic Inheritance.  Women that inherit a gene which is mutated (the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 gene) are at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
  3. Early Menarche. Girls that have their first period before the age of 12 has a higher risk of breast cancer as the breasts will receive hormone exposure for a longer time.
  4. Pregnancy over the age of 30, or have never been pregnant is also a risk factor for breast cancer.
  5. Late Menopause. Menopause that happens over the age of 44 years old will also cause prolonged exposure to estrogen.
  6. Overweight, obese, and physical inactivity. Women who are not physically active and overweight have increased risk of breast cancer.
  7. A history of breast cancer previously.
  8. A history of having other breast diseases such a cyst.
  9. A history of a family member having breast cancer.
  10. Alcohol consumption.
Physically looking for lumps around your breast and armpits are important in screening for breast cancer. Consult your physician and the doctor may also screen for your lumps.
The doctor may offer you other ways of screening for cancer:

1. Mammograms.The procedure uses low doses of X-rays on your breasts to find early and small lumps.

2. Ultrasound of the Breast
Using ultrasound waves proves to better than mammograms as they are able to detect the growth earlier, and may be able to tell if it is a benign or malignant/cancerousgrowth.

3. Biopsy of the Breast TissueBiopsy is an invasive procedure as we will be taking cell samples from the breast.Laboratory tests will be done to the cells to find out whether the cells are cancerous.The sample is also tested for what type of breast cancer it is (as there are more than one type of breast cancer), and which type of treatment the cancer will respond best to.
4. CT and MRI ScanA CT and MRI scan may be able to find the depth of invasion of the cancer.It can also detect if the breast cancer has spread anywhere else in the body.

As stated previously, screen, screen, screen from breast cancer.  Even actress Angelina Jolie found out she had a mutated BRCA gene, and decided to have a double mastectomy in order for her to avoid breast cancer. If the tumor or cancer is small and localized the chance of remission is way higher then when the breast cancer has spread. Do not be afraid to go to your doctor to screen for breast cancer.
Women ages 40-44 have the choice to start annual screening with a mammogram if they want to.
Women age 45-54 should get mammograms every year.
Women 55 and older should get mammograms every 2 years or continue yearly screening.

We hope that we have educated you adequately in order for you to make better decision for breast cancer screening!

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