It is almost the end of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with all that is going on in our lives, it can be easy to forget about scheduling a checkout to check for lumps. But these breast cancer tests are important and can save your life and also months or years of painful treatments.
For women, there are different factors that are risk factors for breast cancer. They include age, family history, menopause, long exposure to radiation or toxins, alcohol usage, birth control usage, and breast implants. Read more Health: How To Know If You’re At Risk Of Developing Breast Cancer
Different tests can be done.
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors use a mammogram to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.
According to Radiology.info, ultrasound imaging of the breast uses sound waves to produce pictures of the internal structures of the breast. It is used to help diagnose breast lumps or other abnormalities found during a physical exam or on a mammogram or breast MRI. A breast ultrasound is safe, non-invasive, and does not use radiation.
Which is better, a mammogram or a breast ultrasound?
So a breast ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves and mammography uses a low-dose X-ray.
It depends on your age. This article by MedicineNet, states a breast ultrasound is more accurate in women younger than 45 years. Mammography is preferred in women older than 45 years. Therefore, the investigation best suited to you depends on your age, your symptoms, and the structure of your breasts.
You need to consider that a breast ultrasound may miss small lumps or solid tumours that are commonly found with mammography. Also, that being obese or having very large breasts may make the ultrasound less accurate. So if you can afford it or your family has a history of breast cancer it would be good to do a mammogram if you are under the age of 45.
It is important to note that the American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer says
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women aged 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years or can continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
You have to consider that you have different risks also based on specific health conditions that you have or also based on things like the type of contraceptives you are using and your occupation and occupational hazards. So be sure to talk to your healthcare professional about any concerns you may have.
During this month many hospitals give deals not only for breast examinations but also perform cervical cancer tests, the most common being a test called a pap smear.
A Pap Smear
A pap smear is a test carried out on cells from the cervix to see if there are any abnormalities that may be indicative of cervical cancer.
Speaking of cancer, here is Cancer – Here Are Some Of The Causes And Symptoms To Look Out For
Here is a post that will tell you more about the different types of breast cancers there are out there – Breast Cancer in Black Women.