The best way to find breast lumps is to do three things:
- Have regular mammograms (usually every two years starting at age 50). If you are younger than 50, talk to your doctor about your risk factors for breast cancer, including your family history, to decide whether regular mammogram screenings are appropriate for you).
- Have your doctor check your breasts.
- Check your breasts yourself every month.
Doing all of these things gives you the best chance to find cancer as early as you can. Finding breast cancer early makes treatment much easier and more effective.
A mammogram is the most effective way to find breast cancer early, up to two years before the lump is even large enough to feel. A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray of your breasts. The amount of radiation used in the X-ray is very small and not harmful.
Mammograms detect cancer because cancer is more dense (thicker) than the normal part of the breast. A radiologist will look at the X-rays for signs of cancer or other breast problems.
Your breast will rest on a shelf and the X-ray machine will slowly press against your breast until you feel pressure. This pressure is needed to spread your breast out so that a better X-ray can be taken. The X-ray takes one or two minutes, and the entire process usually takes no more than about 20 minutes.
Information provided by Dr. Doug Layton, D.O., Family Physicians at Prairie Trail, 2515 S.W. State St., 964-6999.