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How to Detect Breast Cancer
27 Jul. 2014

breast cancer self-examTaking into consideration that every eight woman develops breast cancer, it is important to learn how to recognize the basic early signs and symptoms of the disease, the principles of self diagnosis and early breast cancer detection.

The major risk factors are associated with hormonal imbalance. First of all, this is positive family history (breast cancer through the female line – in mother, sister, grandmother), changes in mammary glands (after injury, childbearing; fibrocystic mastopathy), premature menopause (especially before the age of 30 as a result of surgical castration, for example, bilateral resection of ovary after apoplexy), late childbearing and childlessness at the age of 30 and over.

Your breast physician may consider the use of breast cancer preventive drugs to lower your risk. One of few suchlike drugs is Novaldex (Tamoxifen). It belongs to the group of selective estrogen modulators and is the most effective for lowering the risk of estrogen-positive breast cancer. It is typically used to treat breast cancer in women diagnosed as having the disease, but has also shown to reduce the risk of the disease recurrence and prolong lives of women with early cancer stages.

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Whether or not you have a positive family history, it is advised to perform self-diagnosis every once in a while in order to early detect the disease.  The warning signs for alarm can be the following symptoms:breast cancer symptoms

• New lumps, mass or breast nodularity, which don’t disappear after monthly periods (a mass that is hard, painless and with irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous);
• Focal changes in shape and form of breast, mainly on one side;
• Nipple discharge other than breast milk (light watery or bloody);
• Redness, scaliness or thickening of nipples or breast skin;
• Nipple retraction; skin irritation or dimpling;
• Swelling of breast or a part of it even if no distinct lump is felt;
• Axillary adenopathy (enlargement of lymph nodes under arms);
• Swelling of underarm and upper arm.

Only women themselves are the first to see these changes and it is important to possess practical skills of self-examination, including self-palpation of mammary gland and neighboring lymph nodes.

Self-examination should be performed every month, preferably at one and the same time, 3-5 days after menstruation best. Remember that more than a half of women detect mammary gland changes and only every eight develops cancer.

Here are 3 easy steps to perform a breast self-exam:

In the shower. With finger pads move around breast in a circular pattern, moving from outside to the center. Check the entire breast and underarm area feeling for lumps, thickening or hardening knot.

In front of a mirror. Visually inspect your breast with your arms on your hips and shoulders straight. Look for any changes in the contour, size, color, swelling, dimpling, puckering, bulging of skin or changes in the nipples. Then raise your arms overhead and look for the same changes. Right and left breasts do not exactly match, so look for any changes, especially on one side.

Lying down. When lying down breast tissue spreads evenly along the chest wall. Feel your left breast with the right hand and right breast with your left hand. Move your finger pads gently around the breast in circular motions covering the entire breast and underarms.

Squeeze nipples for lumps and discharge.
If you notice any changes, report to your doctor. He will have you undergo clinic check-up, mammography and ultrasound scan. Mammogram helps to detect tumors even before they can be felt and should be performed yearly in women over 40, whereas ultrasound is mainly indicated to nulliparous women as their breast is more vulnerable to X-rays. Self-exams must be performed regularly by every woman from the age of 20.

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