What women need to know about breast cancer
The experienced physicians at Athens ObGyn strive to educate patients about breast cancer while emphasizing preventive care. Our doctors provide compassionate, expert cancer care, which includes screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Watch for certain signs and symptoms
Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer risk for American women. As such, women need to know which signs may signal a problem. A lump in the breast is the most common symptom, but there are several others.
- Swelling in all or part of the breast tissue
- Pain in the nipple or breast area
- Dimpled skin
- Changes in the nipple, such as discharge or nipples turning inward
- Breasts or nipples that appear red, thickened, flaky or dry
- Swollen lymph nodes under the arms or in the collarbone area
Not all lumps in the breast are hard. Masses that signal cancer can be soft, painful and tender, or they can be painless. Patients should visit a doctor at Athens ObGyn if they experience any of these symptoms.
There are several risk factors for developing breast cancer
Certain risk factors can put women at risk for developing this type of cancer.
- Age (most cases occur after age 50)
- Dense breast tissue
- History of breast cancer or other non-malignant breast diseases
- Family history (having a sister, mother or daughter who has had this type of cancer)
- Beginning menstruation before the age of 12 or beginning menopause after age 55
Women who had radiation therapy to the breasts or chest area before age 30, or who took the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) are also at higher risk. Physicians prescribed DES between 1940 and 1971 to prevent miscarriages.
Women who have certain risk factors, including a strong family history, can benefit from BRCA genetic testing. This test checks for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Patients should consult Athens ObGyn about whether genetic testing would be beneficial for them.
Prevention begins at home
Women are an essential part of the team when it comes to prevention. Practicing daily breast self-awareness is the first step. Breast self-awareness is not time-consuming. In fact, it’s simple. Our physicians urge patients to get to know what their breasts normally look and feel like. It’s easier to notice and report changes when women are familiar with their breasts.
Screening mammograms are vital tools in the fight
At Athens ObGyn, we offer screening mammograms, including conventional 2D mammography and 3D mammography. Most women should begin having an annual mammogram when they are 40 years old. Women who have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer should discuss the timing of their screening procedures with our physicians.
Our compassionate staff and physicians not only help women prevent breast cancer, they also diagnose and treat patients if cancer develops. Patients who are looking for expert care and treatment should contact us for an appointment.