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Breast Cancer Detection

Clinical options of breast cancer detection,Breast cancer detection is easy with telling signs and symptoms,How to carry out monthly breast examinations

It’s not hard for a woman to detect breast cancer, if she is alert and conscious of the various signs and symptoms of the disease. That breast cancer is the second leading form of cancer among women and this cancer in every third woman is potentially preventable is proof enough to assess the degree of seriousness in which breast cancer detection must be taken.

Every woman above 20 years of age must be watchful of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. The chances of recovery are more if detection of breast cancer is early.

The first guideline to breast cancer detection is to physically check for anything unusual in the breasts. It may be a lump or a mass with irregular hard ridges in the breast, an unusual swelling in any part of the breast, any discharge other than breast milk, redness or skin irritation anywhere in the breasts including nipples, peau d’ orange (wrinkling of the breast) if any such signs are spotted it is important to see a doctor immediately.

Monthly breast self examination is the first important method of breast cancer detection. Women must take time out every month and conduct breast self exams (BSE) by lying down and in standing position, preferably while having a shower. It is best advised to conduct these tests on fixed days in a month, possibly after a week following the menstrual cycle.

Lie own with a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. With the finger pads of the three middle fingers of your left hand, firmly press the right breast with a circular up and down movement to look for lumps or any abnormalities. Repeat the process on the left breast while shifting the pillow under your left shoulder and left arm behind your head.
While in the shower, breast self exams must be conducted while standing as well so as to check the outer and upper part (near the armpits) of the breasts. Cancers are mostly found around these parts in most of the incidences of breast cancer. If you are unsure, seek your doctor’s advice.

Clinical examinations for breast cancer may be done every year, especially if you are above 40 years of age. The doctor will examine to check for any changes in the shape and size while looking for any unusual lumps in the breasts. The tests are somewhat similar as BSEs but one can be more certain of the diagnosis by a doctor.

Mammography: An x-ray picture of the breasts called mammography can yield a better insight to very minute signs of cancer that the patient or the doctor would have failed to notice. A yearly mammogram is suggested to women who are above 40 years of age. These are quick and early procedures wherein the breasts are firmly pressed flat between two plastic plates for a few seconds for the x-ray image.
Diagnostic mammography, as a next step, is performed if abnormal masses or lumps are found during mammography. This procedure examines the breast, with the help of x-rays, usually magnified. it is equipped to check if the mass is benign (non-cancerous) or whether a biopsy test is needed for further investigation.

Biopsy is the next step to actually confirm the presence of breast cancer. A small amount of tissue is removed from the breast and checked under the microscope for the presence of cancer cells. For biopsy tests, either a small needle is inserted into the breast to draw fluids and cells from the lump, or a larger needle is inserted to draw more tissue.

A biopsy test is a definite pre-requisite to decide on the course of treatment for breast cancer. A biopsy can determine whether the cancer is fast spreading to other tissues or not. Every biopsy sample is given a grading, according to which the prognosis can be decided for a patient. Lowe the grading, slower is the spreading of cancer cells in the body.

Ductogram is a test to detect the cause of discharge from the nipple. A sample of the discharge is collected and tested in the laboratory for the presence of cancer cells.

Sometimes doctors also suggest a breast ultrasound to check breast abnormalities. High frequency sound waves are sent across the body section, the outlines of which are translated onto a computer. In this method, the patient avoids the trouble of being prodded by a needle, but breast ultrasound fails to detect small amounts of calcium deposits in the breasts, which may be early stages of cancer.

Certain latest guidelines for early detection of breast cancer suggest that MRIs for women with higher risk factors help detect abnormalities which even a mammography fails to identify. Higher risk factors include women with a specific gene mutation, those who were treated for Hodgkin’s disease or those with a family history of breast cancer. Also, gene tests to detect the likelihood of breast cancer in the future are slowing gaining ground.

A small section of men get breast cancers too. Most doctors advise excision of the breast tissue after a suggested mammogram or a biopsy.
As per a surveillance research conducted by the American Cancer Society, if a woman is currently 20 years, the chances of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1 in 2500. If a woman is 30 years old, the chances of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1 in 250. Therefore, to a very large extent, it is, in every woman’s hand to prevent breast cancer with a scheduled breast cancer detection regimen.
Published: 2008-02-03
Author: Paawana Poonacha Cariappa

About the author or the publisher
Byline articles for publications,PR content for corporates, syndicated articles for bigwigs, rhymes and short stories for children, and poetry for the like-minded...taking forward over 10 years experience as journalist/writer, presently working as Content Head for a Mumbai-based communications firm. You can view my bylines as "Paawana Poonacha" or "Paawana Poonacha Cariappa".

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