The recent changes in breast cancer screening guidelines have caught many women off-guard and have brought about concern. Among these changes include, delaying routine mammograms for women at average risk of breast cancer and the elimination of manual breast exams by health care providers. There are ways women can increase their chances of detecting breast cancer early, despite the changing guidelines.
Be More Vigilant About Self-Exams
If you do not regularly exam your own breasts, you should start. Do your manual breasts exam in the shower after lathering up your breasts. Soap will decrease friction and will prevent you from pressing too hard and noticing normal tissues, such as glands, which can be mistaken for abnormalities. You should not perform a self-exam during or around your menstrual period because your breasts are often more lumpy during this time.
There are instances of women without a strong family history or genetic indicators who develop breast cancer before age 40. In these women, their specific form of breast cancer is often more aggressive and difficult to treat, such as triple negative breast cancer. Since some women develop cancer well before the recommended age of screening, it is important for every woman to do their best and regularly perform their own breast exams.
Research Your Family History
Your family history of breast cancer is even more critical with delayed screening guidelines. Unfortunately, there can be barriers to finding out your family history. Being adopted, not knowing one side of your family or the secretiveness of gynecological problems can all be a hindrance in determining your family history of breast and other reproductive cancers.
Find out as much information as you can about both your maternal and paternal lines. Even if you cannot find out definitive information, be leery if you find out about a female relative that had a premature menopause, died early for some unknown reason, or had an undisclosed health problem.
Consider BRCA Testing
Testing for the BRCA gene can also be important when determining your personal risk of developing breast cancer. Although women without the BRCA gene can still have a strong personal risk, knowing this information can help you and your doctor develop a better screening regimen specific to your risks. If you carry the BRCA gene, this also is associated with an increase in your risk for ovarian cancer.
The recent changes in breast cancer screenings can be scary for many women. Use the methods at your disposal to become more familiar with your breasts and determine if you are at an increased risk of breast cancer. For more information, talk to a professional like Bayview OB GYN Women's Care Florida.