Ways & How

how to check if you have breast cancer

how to check if you have breast cancer

Breast cancer (malignant neoplasm) is a kind of cancer in the breast tissue, particularly in the milk ducts’ inner lining or in the lobules. Malignant cancer cells originating in the milk ducts are called ductal carcinomas, while those emanating in the lobules are called lobular carcinomas. Breast cancer occurs not only in women, but in men as well. In your case, whether or not you are at risk of contracting the disease, you should know how to check if you have breast cancer. Early detection is the best. The Mayo Clinic enumerates the common signs and symptoms of breast cancer, which include lump formation, unusual nipple discharge and inverted nipples. According to the American Cancer Society, older age, sex, family history or prior history of breast cancer, genetic inheritance, early menstrual cycles, dense breast tissue, radiation exposure, obesity, induced abortion, white ethnicity, a high-fat diet and the inability to bear a child are the common risk factors for breast cancer. Detecting breast cancer may be done by a self-breast exam. However, medical diagnostic procedures are still necessary to confirm if the suspected lump is malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Also, your doctor will administer curative procedures only after it is medically established that the lump formations are indeed cancerous. Let us identify the procedures applicable in detecting breast cancer.

  1. Breast-Self Examination (BSE). Whether or not there are revealing symptoms, this method is mandatory for women. Perform the exam a few days after your menstrual period ends (pre-menopausal) because your breasts are tender at that time. If you are no longer having monthly periods (post-menopausal), do the exam on a date that’s easy to recall, like the first day of every month.

    Stand in front of a wide mirror and check for visual signs of swelling, dimpling, redness or change in the skin texture of your breast. Start with the vertical strip examination pattern by moving your index, middle and ring fingers up and down until the whole breast is covered. The pie-wedge exam begins at the nipple and the fingers move outward. If you are not breastfeeding, squeeze your nipple gently to check for any unusual discharge.

  2. Mammography. This breast examination procedure uses low-energy x-rays in detecting masses or micro-calcifications in the breast. For the process, you will receive few doses of ionizing radiation purposely to generate images, which will be studied later by a radiologist. Talcum powder, lotion or deodorant can show up in the images like calcium spots. Therefore, never apply any of these during your examination day.

    Your breast will undergo parallel-plate compression in a mammography machine. The compression is a little painful since it evens out the thickness of the tissue so that the x-rays can penetrate. To prevent motion blur, your breast must be very still. Mediolateral oblique (angled side view) and craniocaudal (head to foot) views of the breast are captured, although other angles like a spot-compressed view can be included.

  3. Breast MRI. This contrast-enhanced test or magnetic resonance imaging is an alternative to mammography, which has shown significant progress in detecting breast lumps. First, the breast is scanned in an MRI machine to generate pre-contrast images (no contrast agent is injected).

    Second, after the breast is injected with a contrast agent, it is scanned again to generate post-contrast images. Since lumps are likely to manifest increased blood flow, the contrast agent causes all lesions to light up, making them visible in the images produced. The pre-contrast images are deducted from the post-contrast images to make those portions that have an increased blood supply very evident.

  4. Breast Thermography. This test uses digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) or highly-resolute infrared cameras in detecting breast cancer. However, the Food and Drug Administration clarified that this examination is not a replacement for mammography. In this test, the analysis is based on the diagnostic-quality infrared appearances of the breast tissue. The procedure is completely non-contact and releases no radiation energy into the breast.

  5. Computed Tomography Laser Mammography. This test uses an optical tomographic approach for breast imaging. Laser energy is released to diagnose angiogenesis in the tissues of the breast. As the laser moves in the breast, tomography images are collected. The images will reflect the hemoglobin distribution in the breast tissues, including the angiogenesis around the malignant tumor.

  6. Scintimammography. This test is called the Miraluma Exam when performed with sestamibi. This is another type of breast imaging exam used when the breasts have an abnormal mammogram or when the breast have dense tissues. Before the test, the patient is injected with a radioactive substance known as technetium 99 sestamibi, which mixes up with the cancer cells. A gamma camera is then used in taking images of the breasts.

Now that you know how to check if you have breast cancer, share this article with your loved ones and friends, women and men. When you do so, you are actually saving lives from breast cancer. In case you have breast cancer, don’t lose hope; there are medical treatments available, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. These procedures, when applied at the early stage of the disease, have curative effects. That is why early detection is always advantageous.


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