It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Do You Have Regular Mammograms? - October 2016

October 6, 2016

Currently, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in terms of mortality for women. In 2016, more than 246,000 American women will develop invasive breast cancer – that’s one in eight women. They will become part of more than 2.8 million people who are living with a history of breast cancer, whether that means they are currently in treatment or have completed treatment. While breast cancer incidence rates have been declining since the year 2000, those numbers remain too high.

At Twin County Regional Hospital, we are taking a stand against breast cancer. We want all of the women in our communities – our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers and friends – to know their risk, to recognize the signs and symptoms, and to understand the importance of self-checks and early detection. 

Throughout October, Twin County Regional Hospital will join hundreds of other businesses, organizations, celebrities and professional athletic teams in celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Launched in 1985 through a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries, Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to raise awareness and help fight the disease through early detection. We’re doing our part by offering a number of services including: Digital Mammography and Breast Ultrasound.

And we are asking a very important question, “Do you have regular Mammograms?”

Like most cancers, early detection of breast cancer is key to successful treatment and recovery. So if you are over the age of 40 or have a family history of breast cancer, and have never had a mammogram, call the Diagnostic Imaging Department at Twin County Regional Hospital today to schedule your baseline scan. And once you start, don’t stop. Perform monthly self-exams, and no matter how busy life gets, make time for your annual mammogram. It could save your life.

To learn more about any of our programs or services, or to schedule a mammogram, call Twin County Regional Hospital at 276.236.1680 or visit www.tcrh.org.


Tips for Prevention and Detection

Understanding the risk factors is the first step to prevention. While anyone can develop breast cancer, people displaying certain behaviors, demographics and health profiles are more prone to the disease. These include:

  • Women with a history of breast cancer have a 3- to 4-times increased risk of developing a new breast cancer, unrelated to the first one, in the other breast or in another part of the same breast.
  • Women with a family history of breast cancer. Having a mother, sister or daughter who has (or has had) breast cancer increases your risk for developing the disease. The risk is even greater if your relative had cancer in both breasts or developed the breast cancer before menopause.
  • Women over age 50. About 77 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over age 50, and almost half are age 65 and older.
  • Women with a previous breast biopsy result of atypical hyperplasia, or those with a previous abnormal breast biopsy indicating fibroadenomas with complex features, hyperplasia without atypia, sclerosing adenosis and solitary papilloma.
  • Carriers of alterations in either of two familial breast cancer genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2.
  • Caucasian women are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American women.
  • Women who have their first child after age 35 or never have children.
  • Women who started menstruating before age 12.
  • Women who begin menopause after age 55.
  • Overweight women, with excess caloric and fat intake (especially post-menopause).
  • Women who have 2 to 5 alcoholic beverages a day are 1.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than women who drink no alcohol.
  • Those exposed to excessive amounts of radiation, especially before age 30.
  • Women who use Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for an extended period of time. (Risk seems to return to that of the general population after discontinuing use for five years or more.)
  • Those with other cancer in the family. A family history of cancer of the ovaries, cervix, uterus or colon increases your risk of developing breast cancer.

For people who display one or more of those risk factors, it is important to understand and be able to detect the symptoms. While breast cancer often has no symptoms in its early stages, the following symptoms may be present as a tumor develops:

  • A lump in the breast or underarm that persists after your menstrual cycle
  • A marble-like area under the skin
  • Swelling in the armpit
  • Persistent breast pain or tenderness
  • Any change in the size, contour, texture or temperature of the breast
  • A noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast
  • A change in the nipple, such as an indrawn or dimpled look, itching or burning sensation, or ulceration
  • Unusual discharge from the nipple

How to Perform a Breast Exam at Home

Lie down on your back and place your right arm behind your head. The exam is done while lying down because, when lying down, the breast tissue spreads evenly over the chest wall and is as thin as possible, making it much easier to feel all the breast tissue.

Use the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue.

Use 3 different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue. Light pressure is needed to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure to feel a little deeper; and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. It is normal to feel a firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast, but, you should tell your doctor if you feel anything else out of the ordinary. Use each pressure level to feel the breast tissue before moving on to the next spot.

Move around the breast in an up and down pattern starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down your side from the underarm and moving across the breast to the middle of the chest bone (sternum or breastbone). Be sure to check the entire breast area going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or collar bone (clavicle).

Repeat the exam on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the exam.

While standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes of size, shape, contour or dimpling, or redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin.

Examine each underarm while sitting up or standing and with your arm only slightly raised so you can easily feel in this area.

- Courtesy: American Cancer Society