October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a good time to discuss overall breast health as well as the symptoms and risks associated with breast cancer. Women in America have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer. For men, the lifetime risk is much less, about 1 in 833, but it is no less serious.
There are many reasons, other than cancer, as to why a person’s breasts my change over time. Aging, hormones, certain medications, certain foods, and changes in weight can all affect the look and feel of breasts. If you notice a change, don’t panic, but don’t delay calling your doctor to have it checked out.
As with all cancers, early detection is key. There are several warning signs that could possibly indicate cancer, but not everyone experiences the same symptoms. Some do not have any signs or symptoms at all. The following symptoms and signs, from the Centers for Disease Control, can occur with noncancerous conditions, but either way, it is a good idea to see your doctor right away if you experience any of these:
- New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
One of the risks of developing breast cancer for both women and men is genetic. There are other risks associated with breast cancer, such as obesity, lack of physical exercise, certain contraceptives, and drinking alcohol, among others. The American Cancer Society provides a list of risks as well as an informative discussion of factors that have not yet been proven or have been disproven, here.
The good news is that imaging has improved dramatically in recent years, increasing the likelihood of finding breast cancer in early stages. The Saratoga Hospital Center for Breast Care offers Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D mammography), Breast Ultrasound, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (Breast MRI), depending on your individual needs. Learn more about these imaging options and why screening matters here. Talk with your doctor about which type of screening is right for you.
The Women’s Imaging Center on our Wilton Campus, which has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, is welcoming patients Monday through Thursday from 7 AM to 7 PM and Friday from 7 AM to 4 PM. Saturday appointments are available as needed. Medical Imaging at Malta is also open for digital mammography appointments Monday-Friday.
Please do not wait to make an appointment—screenings are key to early detection. Learn more about the team and services at Saratoga Hospital Center for Breast Care at its dedicated website. To make a screening mammography appointment, please call 518-580-2232.