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.
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.
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.
This is a good opportunity to get yourself tested for a fraction of the price you would normally pay.
You should also ask your male relatives and friends to go for regular checkups as well. Men also get breast cancer. Here are the risk factors for breast cancer in men – breast cancer in close female relatives, taking estrogen, severe liver disease (cirrhosis), enlargement of breasts (called gynecomastia) from drug or hormone treatments or even some infections and poisons, diseases of the testicles such as mumps orchitis, a testicular injury, or an undescended testicle and history of radiation exposure to the chest. Health: Breast Cancer In Men & Here Is What You Need To Know
Here is how you can do a basic breast cancer check.
Here are the signs that something could be wrong.
Here are some places you can get breast mammograms, pap smears and breast ultrasounds in Nairobi. If you have other places you can recommend please let us know in the comments.