Health Matters: Double Checking for Breast Cancer
Last year, breast cancer killed more than 40,000 women.
Early detection can lower that number.
Being aware of your body is important and so is questioning your doctor if you still feel uneasy after your visit.
I talked to an oncology nurse and a cancer patient and they say it never hurts to double check.
Shirley says she felt something strange on her breast during a self check and did the right thing: see her doctor.
But the mammogram didn’t show anything.
“I thought that there was something wrong with it,” said Shirley. “However, the doctor did not think there was anything wrong with it. He said ‘You are 51. You are going through menopause. It’s probably that’.”
She then saw a surgeon, who did an biopsy.
And they found the cancer.
“I said to him, what would you do if this were your wife sitting here?” asked Shirley. “Because I had no idea which to do, and he said, ‘I would advise her to have the mastectomy’.”
Essentia Health recommends seeing your physician once a year to get a breast exam after you reach the age 40.
“We recommend mammograms, seeing a provider, and doing a breast exam in the clinic setting,” said Andrea Horning, an Oncology Nurse Navigator at Essentia Health. “Ultrasound may be needed, as well as an MRI depending on family history or maybe what was seen during a mammogram or an ultrasound.”
This is especially if you notice anything different in your breast or even around your arm pit.
“Any change to the breast, redness, dryness, scaling, a nipple that may be changed, so now it’s inverted and maybe it hadn’t been previously,” said Horning.
She says go in as early as possible.
“Trust your gut, question, repeat, question again,” she urged.
It may save your life.
“I would have been dead by now, I know,” said Shirley.
Horning says there are many success stories when women are on top of getting checked.
If you do have a history of breast cancer in your family, you may want to get checked before you turn 40.