Shape Cosmetic Surgery in Spokane and Tri-Cities is concerned not only with your breast appearance but also your breast health. To promote your breast health, do regular breast self-exams. With practice, you’ll discover how your breasts vary in sensitivity and texture at different times during your menstrual cycle. You’ll also learn how breast health changes during various stages of life.
For many women, breast health includes concerns about breast lumps, breast pain or nipple discharge. Know what’s normal — and when to consult your doctor. It’s also important to understand common screening and diagnostic tests for breast health, such as clinical breast exams, mammograms and breast ultrasounds.
- Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
- Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
- Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Breast Self-Exam (BSE)
How To Do A Breast Self-Exam
A breast self-exam consists of the following five steps:
Step 1: Examine your breasts in the shower or bath. Your hands move more easily over wet and soapy skin. With your fingers flat, move gently over the entire area of each breast, checking for any lump, hard knot, or thickening.
Step 2: Look at your breasts while standing in front of a mirror. Look at them first with your hands at your sides, then with your hands raised over your head, then with your hands pressed firmly on your hips so that your chest muscles are flexed. Look for lumps, new differences in size and shape, and swelling or dimpling of the skin. It is usually normal for your right and left breasts not to match exactly.
Step 3: Examine your breasts with your fingers while sitting or standing. Slowly and methodically press on a breast with the fingers of the opposite hand. With your fingers flat, work in a circular or spiral direction, beginning at the nipple and moving gradually outward.
Step 4: Lie down and repeat step 3. Put a small pillow or rolled up towel under your shoulder on your left side and put your left arm under your head. This distributes the breast tissue more evenly on your chest. Use your right hand to examine your left breast, as in step 3, then use your left hand to examine your right breast. Feel for any lumps or thickening that cannot be felt in the same area in the other breast.
Step 5: Squeeze the nipple of each breast gently between your thumb and index finger. Report any discharge or fluid to your health care provider right away.
A mammogram is an x-ray examination of the breasts, used to detect and diagnose breast diseases. Screening mammography is used as a preventive measure for women who have no symptoms of breast disease. This painless procedure does not squeeze or damage implants as it uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that can be displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor, and transmitted and stored as computer files.
- Imaging of the breast improves a physician’s ability to detect small tumors. When cancers are small, the woman has more treatment options and a cure is more likely.
- The use of screening mammography increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths confined to the milk ducts in the breast, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). These early tumors are best removed at this stage and mammography is the only proven method to reliably detect these tumors. It is also useful for detecting all types of breast cancer, including invasive ductal and invasive lobular cancer.
- No radiation remains in a patient’s body after an x-ray examination.
- X-rays usually have no side effects in the diagnostic range.
Early Signs Of Ovarian Cancer
Signs And Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are not specific to the disease, and they often mimic those of many other more-common conditions, including digestive and bladder problems.
When ovarian cancer symptoms are present, they tend to be persistent and worsen with time.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
- Pelvic discomfort or pain
- Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
- Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
- Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
- Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
- A persistent lack of energy
- Low back pain
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your doctor about your risk of ovarian cancer. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a genetic counselor to discuss testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Why Do I Need A Pap Test?
A Pap test can save your life. It can find the earliest signs of cervical cancer. If caught early, the chance of curing cervical cancer is very high. Pap tests also can find infections and abnormal cervical cells that can turn into cancer cells. Treatment can prevent most cases of cervical cancer from developing.
Getting regular Pap tests is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer. In fact, regular Pap tests have led to a major decline in the number of cervical cancer cases and deaths.
Do all women need Pap tests?
It is important for all women to have Pap tests, along with pelvic exams, as part of their routine health care. You need a Pap test if you are 21 years or older.
Women who have gone through Menopause (when a woman’s periods stop) still need regular Pap tests. Women ages 65 and older can talk to their doctor about stopping after at least 3 normal Pap tests and no abnormal results in the last 10 years.
How often do I need to get a Pap Test?
It depends on your age and health history. Talk with your doctor about what is best for you. Most women can follow these guidelines:
- Starting at age 21, have a Pap test every 1-2 years.
- If you are 30 years old and older and have had 3 normal Pap tests for 3 years in a row, talk to your doctor about spacing out Pap tests to every 3 years.
- If you are over 65 years old, ask your doctor if you can stop having Pap tests.
Please contact your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your health.