Breast Cancer and Screening: What Experts Want Patients to Know

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, with the first being skin cancer. With 1 in 8 women affected by the disease, experts want you to know these 5 things about breast cancer and screening for it.

1. Your family history matters, but isn’t the final word. While it is extremely important to know your family history to determine if you are at higher risk for breast cancer, you are not locked into developing the disease simply because your family members have. In fact, more data are surfacing about family history’s importance aligning more with the personalization of treatment and screenings and less with your likelihood of developing the disease. 


2.  Know your density. Yes, density, not destiny. Women who have dense breast tissue are no more likely to develop breast cancer than those without, but this type of tissue can pose difficulties when screening for breast cancer with mammography. If you are a part of the 50% of women who have dense breasts, experts recommend scheduling a breast ultrasound at the time of your next mammogram to get the clearest reading. If you do not know if you have dense breast tissue, make sure to ask your healthcare provider.


3. You have options beyond a mastectomy. Breast cancer does not always equate to a mastectomy, especially extensive surgery. If the cancer is detected early, a lumpectomy to remove the localized breast cancer followed by other methods of treating  the remaining malignant breast tissue. 

If you do choose a mastectomy, you even have different types of reconstruction options, including breast implants or your own breast tissue. 


4. Breast cancer isn’t caused by breast implants, deodorant, or underwire bras. While the direct cause of breast cancer has not yet been determined, outside factors such as tight or underwire bras cannot cause cancer on their lonesome. In fact, even with known carcinogens (which deodorant and bras are not), it typically takes several, long term exposures to any outside factor before a cell can turn cancerous. 


5. Create a team of treatment all-stars. When it comes to breast cancer, it is important to know that you will be seeing a team of experienced healthcare providers. From a radiotherapist, to a surgeon, and everything in between, it is vital to know that your team can communicate with each other to get the best treatment for you — especially if you are going to multiple practices. Do not be afraid to choose your healthcare providers carefully — they are going to work together to provide the best care for you. 


Sources: Yale Medicine

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