As a woman, you know your body better than anyone, including your healthcare provider, so it’s important to take the time to do a breast self-exam. Finding a lump in your breast can be scary and cause anxiety. And with the Covid-19 pandemic continue, I appreciate your security concerns.
Mayo Clinic takes many precautions regarding: COVID-19and we are committed to ensuring the safety of our patients and visitors. The risk of contracting COVID-19 by coming in for a screening, such as a mammogram, is very low. While many people may tell you to wait a week or two for a breast cancer screening will not cause significant problems, I believe that delaying screening – or delaying seeking medical attention – can make a difference in terms of treatment if cancer is discovered.
🎬📺 Free Movies and Free TV Shows! 🎭🎬
Keep in mind that a breast self-exam can be difficult for some women, depending on their breast consistency. Some women may have lumpy breasts and it can be difficult to tell which lump is cancerous and which is not. So a breast self-examination is good, but not enough. In my opinion, it is important to see a healthcare professional for diagnosis.
It is also important to note that different ethnic groups get different types of breast cancer. Young African American women and Latinas are more likely to get the aggressive form of breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer. Unfortunately, there are not many targeted treatments that can be used in these women. So if you are an African American or Latina woman, that is another reason for you to seek medical attention as early as possible.
If breast cancer is detected early, such as in stage 1 or stage 0, there is a good chance that the cancer is highly curable. But if you wait for the cancer to start growing, especially if it starts to spread to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is much lower. If it starts to spread elsewhere in the body, it can become incurable. In addition, treatments for patients with stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer are often simpler. These patients often only need surgery, radiation, and endocrine therapy. Chemotherapy is usually required for patients with more advanced disease, with a larger tumor or lymph node involvement.
In recent months, I’ve seen a few women who reported finding a lump in their breasts in February or March at the start of the pandemic. Due to their concerns about COVID-19, they have decided to hold off on seeking medical attention. In one patient, the mass continued to grow. She now has cancer growing through her skin and it has become difficult to treat. I would encourage you – if you feel something different in your chest compared to what it was before – to seek immediate medical attention.
Depending on your situation, in addition to: the traditional one mammographyThere is also tomosynthesis, the 3D mammogram that can provide clearer images for women with dense breast tissue. In addition, your healthcare provider may also breast MRI, which is the most sensitive test and looks at the entire breast area, including regional lymph nodes around the breasts.
The other benefit of seeing a health professional sooner or later is to discuss your personal risk and what preventive measures, if any, may be valuable based on your family history.
There are ways we can calculate the risk of breast cancer in each patient. Several models are currently in use. Some of these models include Gail’s model and another is called the Tyrer-Cuzick model. These models take into account your age at menarche, how many children you have, and whether you’ve had a breast biopsy before. All these things can be connected to the calculation. Then it comes down to your estimated lifetime risk of breast cancer and the best screening mechanisms for you.
If you meet certain criteria, such as in the Gail’s model, and if your risk is more than 1.66% in five years, some patients would be eligible for medication to prevent breast cancer. In other words, the hormone blockers used to treat patients who already have breast cancer can also prevent breast cancer from occurring in high-risk patients. These drugs can reduce the risk by up to almost 70%.
Being proactive and doing a breast self-exam every month is a great first step to maintaining overall health. Regardless of COVID-19, I recommend that you contact your primary care provider to schedule a screening appointment and get an answer about the lump you found. —dr. Saranya Chumsric, Medical Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla.
🎬📺 Free Movies and Free TV Shows! 🎭🎬