How to early detect breast cancer - simple guide

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Breast cancer has become the most common cancer in India. According to WHO, there are about 1.38 million new cases and 4.5 lakhs of deaths from breast cancer each year. In India, 1 in 28 women is likely to develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Early detection can help to control the disease.

Mammography is used to diagnose the disease when there are no signs and symptoms. Early detection can stop the spread of disease. There is no cure for breast cancer but early detection can help in preventing the disease and promotes successful treatment.

Increase the possibility of early detection of cancer by following these 3 steps : 

1. Breast self-examination

Breast self-awareness can help in identifying small changes occurring in the breast and breast area. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic – most lumps are not cancer.

Changes to look for include:

• A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area

• A change in the size or shape of the breast

• Dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast

• A nipple turned inward into the breast

• Discharge (fluid) from the nipple

• Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin at the center of the breast) You should see your health care provider about any of these symptoms. Often these symptoms are not due to cancer, but if you notice any changes in your body, tell your health care provider immediately so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated.

2. Professional Help

It is recommended that women visit their family physician or gynecologist each year for a Well-Woman Exam. In addition to a routine pelvic exam and pap smear, the doctor may perform a brief breast exam to check for abnormalities. The Well-Woman Exam is a great opportunity for you to discuss with your health care provider any questions or concerns you have regarding your breast health. For example, your doctor may help you determine the most appropriate personalized frequency for your early detection steps.

3. Mammography

In its early stages, breast cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms. It is recommended that women ages 40 and older get a mammogram every year. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is a safe way to detect cancerous tumors and other abnormal breast conditions, and women who have screening mammograms have a lower chance of dying from breast cancer than women who do not have screening mammograms. Mammograms can detect cancer or other problems before a lump becomes large enough to be detected by touch. They provide an effective way to find breast cancer in its early stages when treatment is usually the most successful. Mammograms are considered safe, quick, and relatively painless.


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