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On my father’s side of the family there is a painfully long history of breast cancer. Over time my grandma has lost both her breasts to breast cancer, but is still alive and well. Her sister however wasn’t so lucky.
I totally trust my doctor’s opinion, so when I asked for a mammogram and she said it’s not worth the potential harm from the radiation. While mammograms today would involve a very small amount of radiation, I still head her warning and will stay clear from mammograms for now.
The fear however, is still inside me. I am always checking for lumps or changes in my breasts. How would I even know what a change looks like? If I find a lump, how would I even know it’s breast cancer? Should I be worried about cervical cancer too? How do I get checked for cervical cancer?
My list of fears goes on and on…
I can’t change a lot about breast cancer and the fear, but I did some research and put this together for my own ease of mind and maybe even help some other women out there as well. I hope this helps.
Breast Cancer Awareness:
Breast cancer can be hard to notice, but catching it early means more options for treatment and a better chance in conquering the cancer. Catching the cancer early can also reduce the chances of it spreading.
The chance of developing breast cancer increases as you get older. More than 80 percent of breast cancers are found in women over the age of 50 and most women diagnosed have no family history of the disease.
Contact your doctor if you notice a:
Lump or dimpling,
Changes in your nipple or fluid leaking from the nipple.
Skin changes or redness that does not go away.
Any other changes in your breast.
Most changes in the breast are actually not cancer, but it’s better safe than sorry so talk to your doctor anyway.
Some women are considered to have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
If you are 50-years or older you should try to get a mammogram every two years.
What is a mammography?
A mammogram is a low dose X-ray machine. A plastic plate gets pressed down slowly to flatten the breast and hold it in place for a few seconds. The pressure added to the breast is similar to a tight pressure cuff on your arm, so don’t worry the pressure will not harm your breast tissue in any way. Two pictures are taken of each breast.
Usually the mammograms results will come back completely normal. However, the mammograms can detect cancer in the breast way before there are any symptoms.
Some helpful hints to prepare for a mammogram:
Most women’s breasts are tender the week before and after their period, so maybe try to book your appointment far away from your period.
Some women take an Advil an hour before the appointment to avoid any tenderness. It’s worth a try, right?
Some doctors believe that having less coffee for the whole week before will help with the tenderness. Maybe even two weeks before your mammogram if you are really worried.
On the day of the mammogram:
Don’t wear a jumper or a dress. You might be asked to remove your top, so any two-piece outfit should be good.
Do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, body lotions or talcum powders. Metals in these products can show up on the X-ray picture.
A healthy lifestyle may reduce your chances in getting cancer:
Maintain a healthy body weight, especially after menopause.
Be physically active.
Have no more than one alcoholic drink per day, if at all.
Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke.
Consider limiting time on hormone therapy, if used.
Most importantly, get screened.