Breast Cancer Screening

Similarly to most other diseases and conditions as damaging as cancer, a good prevention and screening is oftentimes more important and more useful than the actual treatment, which might be either risky or ineffective. Although surgery is a relatively effective way of treating breast cancer, in the unfortunate event that the tumor is not discovered in time, it might be too late even for this radical treatment to work. Thats why most cancer specialists agree in unison that a good screening process is vital in the fight against breast cancer.

Self Exam

Although there are many forms of breast cancer screening, some more effective than others, the two main methods remain mammography and breast self examination. The latter, as the name suggests, can be produced by anyone, without the need of a trip to the doctor or any tools and accessories. Basically, breast self-examination (or BSE) is correctly done if it follows the set of steps presented below:

    1. Stand in front of a mirror that allows you to clearly see your body, from the waist up.
    2. Expose your top and place your hands on your hips.
    3. While in this position, look for any swellings, red spots or bumps on your breasts in the mirror.
    4. Place your arms above your head and repeat step 3.
    5. Palpate your breasts for lumps. Dont refrain your search just to lumps beneath the skin, but also try to feel inside the deeper tissues of the breast.
    6. Palpate the entire breast, from its base, to the edge and make sure you leave no spot unsearched.
    7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 while laying down.
    8. Pay special attention to the nipple area and the area just beneath them.
    9. Squeeze the nipples gently, checking for any kind of discharge.
    10. Repeat the entire process a couple of times for safety, since its easy to miss smaller lumps in a single self-examination.

Provided you follow these steps closely, you should immediately notice anything out of order on your breasts. Its important that you try and form a breast self-examination “schedule” and perform it at least once a week, since it will be easier to spot changes to your breasts. The entire process shouldnt take you more than a few minutes and given the fact that it may very well save you a lot of trouble (and why not, your life!) those will be some well-spent minutes.

Mammography

The second form of breast cancer screening is mammography. Its not as easy to produce as breast self examination but it has a high efficiency that recommends this method as one of the best in breast cancer screening. Using low-dose x-rays on the breast, the mammograms form an image that can be analyzed by specialists for abnormal tumors or cysts inside the breast. However, the use of x-rays (although they are used at an extremely low rate) has earned mammography a sizeable opposition consisting of several specialized institutions and individuals that consider it unsafe.

Above all this, mammography has a slight error rate that is also heavily contested. Despite these problems, mammography remains one of the main breast cancer screening methods next to BSE and it is recommended in many countries as a yearly examination in order to prevent the risks of breast cancer.

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