Three breast cancer screenings you need to know
There are currently more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program encourages women to be screened for breast cancer.
Are you at risk?
There are avoidable and non-avoidable factors that affects your risk of breast cancer
. Age (risk increases with age), family history of breast cancer, race, and menstrual period history are factors that cannot be changed but can help a woman know if she should be closely observed for breast cancer. Use of birth control pills, hormone therapy after menopause, or not having children are factors that may increase the risk of breast cancer, which can be avoided.
However it’s important to remember that having a risk factor does not mean that one will develop breast cancer. Many women never develop the disease despite having an increased risk, while others who have no apparent risk factors may be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Symptoms to watch for
While some patients may notice a lump, area of thickening, dimple in the breast, swelling, redness, or pain of the breast, others may not experience any outward signs or symptoms of breast cancer because the lump may be too small and go unnoticed.
Screenings are vital in helping find if cancer is present before any symptoms may occur.
Screening for breast cancer
Three tests are typically used to screen for breast cancer. The mammogram is an X-ray of the breasts that finds tumors too small to feel. Its detection ability depends on tumor size and breast tissue density. A clinical breast exam is a manual exam performed by a health-care professional (the breast will be examined for changes in size or shape and then will be felt for lumps); a breast self-exam is a manual exam that a woman can do on her own.
Most women who get breast cancer do not have an identified risk factor, so all women over the age of 40 should get screened.
The American Cancer Society recommends that:
- Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year to screen for breast cancer.
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam every three years, and for women 40 and older, every year.
- Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.
- Some women at high risk for breast cancer due to family history, genetic predisposition, or certain other factors should have screening with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to a yearly mammogram.
While MRI is more sensitive than a mammogram, it can produce a higher number of false-positive results, which may lead to unneeded biopsies and other tests. It is generally not recommended as a breast screening tool on its own because it also can miss some cancers that a mammogram would detect.
It is important to talk with your doctor about breast cancer screening and what is right for you. If you are concerned about your risk of cancer or your family’s risk, you also may want to make an appointment at Virtua Fox Chancer Cancer Program
As a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program has early access to new research discoveries on cancer prevention and treatment. Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners is a select group of community hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey affiliated with Fox Chase Cancer Center—part of Temple Health— to provide the latest in cancer research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in their own communities. Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners offers patients, families, and their physicians enhanced resources to deal with the burden of cancer, including the newest clinical trials.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare
, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
and the Fox Chase Cancer Center
. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org