Health Watch: Early Detection Of Breast Cancer

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With Breast Cancer Awareness month coming up, it's a good time to talk about self-examination and when to be checked.
Rhiannon Walker takes a look.

Breast Cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. While breast cancers can form anywhere in the breast, most begin in the milk ducts, and not all types will cause lumps. Odette Butler, who is the CEO of the Breast Cancer Detection Center here in Fairbanks, talked about the recommendations the B-C-D-C makes regarding breast cancer detection.

"Here at B-C-D-C we recommend that women start doing their self-breast exams at age 20, and do them monthly to see if they see any differences or see any indication of an abnormality such as looking at themselves in the mirror to see if there is any dimpling or if there's any sore spots or red spots, anything that is out of the norm, we encourage them to look for and get followed up with a doctor."

A lot of people believe that if there is a family history of breast cancer, it puts them at higher risk for development, however, Butler explained that that isn't always the case.

"Most women who get diagnosed with breast cancer, don't have a family history. So it's not more important if you have a family history to get an exam, it's important if you are a woman, to get an exam because you don't know who it's going to pick."

But what are the signs and symptoms we need to look for? According to the American Cancer Society, signs and symptoms to be aware of are: swelling in all or part of a breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction, redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, and/or nipple discharge that is not breast milk.

"Women need to be more attuned to their bodies and instead of sneaking past that mirror and not looking at yourselves, you know, to take a look every morning, every day, when you're in the shower, if you are soaping your body, take a look you know, with your fingers."

In a report put out by the American Cancer Society, in 2017, around 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, while 63,410 cases of carcinoma in situ, or the earliest form of breast cancer, will be diagnosed in women, and around 40,610 women will die from breast cancer.
Education and early detection are the key to prevention.