October is designated as Pink Month because of its color association with breast cancer awareness, highlighting the importance of timely and effective controls, diagnoses, and treatments.
In this article, you can learn about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and the importance of regular screening in early treatment, so you can act quickly if you notice any changes. We believe that early detection is key to surviving this disease.
Breast Cancer is the Most Common Cancer Among Women in Hungary
Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 new patients are registered each year with breast cancer, and it causes the death of approximately 2,000 women in Hungary. This means that almost every 10th woman develops this disease during her lifetime. (1) Although breast cancer mostly occurs among women, it is not without precedent among men either.
In recent decades, survival rates have doubled, mostly due to early detection and treatment. But many people are still unaware that they could be at risk for breast cancer.
Breast cancer is more likely to occur as you get older: the majority of women diagnosed are over the age of 45. The risk also increases with family history. If you have a close family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your chance may be higher than average. If you have a family history and are over 30, regular screening has crucial importance.
Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or thickening in the breast. It may feel like a pea or marble under the skin and can sometimes move around, especially if you press on your chest wall or breathe deeply. The breast lump may be tender, or painful to touch.
In some cases, no lump is found but there may be other symptoms such as skin irritation or dimpling, redness or flaky skin around the nipple area, or pulling in of the nipple (sometimes called retraction). Some women experience nipple discharge (such as bloody fluid or watery liquid) from one or both nipples.
The breast lump may be detected during self-examination or on a regular medical checkup, and may also be detected on a mammogram. By mammography screening, doctors can find the early signs of breast cancer, even three years before a lump can physically be felt.
Importance of Prevention and Early Detection
Prevention is a vital step in the fight against breast cancer. There are a few things that you can do to significantly lower the risk of getting breast cancer:
- avoiding excess weight,
- staying active and physically fit,
- not smoking, and
- eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
The other key element of breast cancer prevention is regular examination and screening. The earlier the tumor is discovered, the better the chances of recovery and survival! The disease can most likely be cured if it hasn’t spread throughout the body or metastasized from its original site to distant organs such as bone or lung tissue.
It is suggested that every woman have regular breast cancer screenings:
- Below the age of 40: regular breast ultrasound examination (mammography is not necessary at this age, but it is available upon request).
- Between the ages of 40-45: breast ultrasound examination annually, mammography screenings every 2 years.
- Above the age of 45: Mammography screenings and ultrasound examinations should be taken annually.
How is Breast Cancer Detected?
Regular Manual Checkups
It is important to perform self-examination at least once a month. Take at least 20 minutes to have a thorough look at and feel each breast for possible lumps, distortions, or swelling. If you notice any abnormalities on your breasts, such as lumps or thickening of tissue, consult your doctor immediately.
Your gynecologist or family doctor can check your breasts during the regular physical exam, which may help find breast cancer early on. It involves checking for lumps, puckers, dimples, or redness on the skin of your breasts. This is called a clinical breast exam. The doctor can also teach you the proper way of self-screening. If it’s necessary, your doctor may recommend further testing.
Breast Cancer Screening
Mammography is recommended for everyone who is at increased risk for developing breast cancer, especially women over 40 years old. A mammogram is an X-ray examination of the breast. During the procedure, the patient is placed in a compression device that squeezes the breast between two plates. The compression makes the breast softer and easier to position into the compression device. An X-ray image is then taken of the breasts from different angles.
Breast ultrasound is a safe, painless imaging test that uses sound waves to get pictures of the inside of your breast. It can show cysts, fibroids, and lymph nodes that cannot be detected by mammography. The examination determines whether there are any abnormal areas in the breast, which may need further evaluation. By this also other diseases of the breast can be detected, and is especially useful for women who have dense breast tissue (which makes it harder to see abnormalities on a mammogram).
What Happens if Your Screening Test is Positive?
Examination results are mailed to you within one business day. Our radiologist will discuss with you any abnormalities detected during the examinations, and may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation if necessary.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, but it can be treated if discovered at an early stage. Regular manual examination, mammography and ultrasound screening can save lives. It enables doctors to detect tumors when they’re still small enough for treatment—and therefore much less likely to spread and cause other health problems. Without that, diagnosis often comes after advanced tumor growth. This may decrease life expectancy and cause terrible suffering from a disease that could have been cured. Having regular mammography screenings is most important for women from age 45 and everyone, who has a family history of breast cancer.
Request an appointment for radiology screenings with complex mammography and breast ultrasound examinations. A thorough breast examination procedure usually takes about 15-20 minutes and allows an accurate and non-invasive detection of the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer even in dense breasts.