Breast Cancer Screening Tips

Read these 14 Breast Cancer Screening Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Breast Cancer tips and hundreds of other topics.

Breast Cancer Screening Tips has been rated 3.2 out of 5 based on 422 ratings and 1 user reviews.
What is the difference between fine needle breast biopsy and a core needle breast biopsy?

Fine Needle Aspiration Breast Biopsy vs. Core Needle Breast Biopsy

If you or your doctor discovers a lump in your breast, your doctor may suggest a fine needle aspiration breast biopsy or a core needle breast biopsy to determine whether or not it is cancerous. The fine needle aspiration biopsy is less invasive, because the needle used is thinner than one used to draw blood. For this biopsy, your doctor will clean the area of your breast nearest to the suspicious lump with an alcohol swab and insert a fine needle into the area to retrieve the cells for examination. He may or may not numb you with a local anesthetic; but request it if you have a lower tolerance for discomfort. For a core needle biopsy, the doctor will perform an ultrasound on your breast with an ultrasound wand to locate the exact spot of the lump, a local anesthetic will be given, and the needle will be inserted into the lump (guided by pictures on the ultrasound screen). The core needle is big enough to actually extract tissue, but will not leave a scar. It may seem that the fine needle aspiration is the best way to go insofar as comfort, but this procedure is sometimes less accurate because the needle is extracting from nearby breast tissue and not directly from the lump. Also, if cells extracted from the fine needle aspiration even look suspicious, it is likely that your doctor will order a second, more invasive biopsy for a more accurate diagnosis.

   
If I’m sent for a breast biopsy, what are the chances I have cancer?

When the Doctor Says You Need A Breast Biopsy

If detecting a lump in your breast isn’t alarming enough, being sent for a breast biopsy is! The first thing you should understand when your doctor says the words “breast biopsy” is about 75% of all biopsies are benign, or non-cancerous. The second thing you need to understand is what type of biopsy will be performed. Ask your doctor to explain the procedure and how you should prepare for your breast biopsy. It’s a good idea to refrain from taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication a couple weeks before the biopsy because those types of medicines will increase bleeding and bruising. There are three main types of breast cancer biopsies: fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy or a small incision (or surgery). If you are having a surgical breast biopsy, have a friend or relative drive you to the surgery center and back home again because you will be under anesthesia during surgery. It’s also a good idea to have someone accompany you to a needle biopsy just for moral support. You won’t know the final result of the biopsy until the pathologist’s report comes back which can sometimes take a few days so it’s just nice to have someone in the waiting room to talk to and drive home with. Remember: a breast biopsy doesn’t mean you have cancer; it is simply a screening method to ensure that you don’t.

   
How do I perform a breast self-exam?

Performing a Breast Self-Exam

Want advice on breast cancer screening? If you are over 20 years old, it is time to get in touch with your breasts. Once a month, you should perform a breast self-exam (BSE) to check for anything new or different. If you are still menstruating, get in the habit of performing a BSE in the shower on the first day of every period. Otherwise, pick a day each month for your BSE. To perform the BSE exam, lift one arm, putting your hand behind your head. With the other hand, keep your fingers flat and move them around your breast from the nipple outward in small circular motions, feeling for any lumps, hard knots, or areas that seem dense or thickened. Feel all the way to the side of your breast, into your underarm. Repeat on the other side. When you get out of the shower, examine your breasts in the mirror, first with your arms at your sides, then with your arms raised over your head. Look for areas of dimpling or swelling, or any changes to the nipple. Should you find anything unusual about your breasts, call your doctor. Chances are it is nothing, but you will not know until you ask.

   
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

Breast Abnormalities Warrant a Call to Your Doctor

Breast cancer, like many cancers, can be hidden. Early forms do not usually cause symptoms. Often they cannot be felt by a woman or her doctor. Only when the cancer has grown and spread, are breast cancer symptoms likely to be noticed. These may include:

Lumps or hard spots in the breast tissue or under the arm,

A change in the size, shape, or color of the breast or nipple,

Breast pain or discomfort,

A dimple or pucker in the skin of the breast (kind of like an orange peel),

Scaly skin on the breast,

An inverted nipple,

Visible blood veins in the breast,

Unusual discharge

Should you notice one of these breast cancer signs, or indeed, anything at all unusual about your breasts, do not panic. Cancer is but one of many possible causes. However, pay a visit to your doctor right away

   
If I’m sent for a breast biopsy, what are the chances I have cancer?

When the Doctor Says You Need A Breast Biopsy

If detecting a lump in your breast isn't alarming enough, being sent for a breast biopsy is! The first thing you should understand when your doctor says the words “breast biopsy” is about 75% of all biopsies are benign, or non-cancerous. The second thing you need to understand is what type of biopsy will be performed. Ask your doctor to explain the procedure and how you should prepare for your breast biopsy. It's a good idea to refrain from taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication a couple weeks before the biopsy because those types of medicines will increase bleeding and bruising. There are three main types of breast cancer biopsies: fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy or a small incision (or surgery). If you are having a surgical breast biopsy, have a friend or relative drive you to the surgery center and back home again because you will be under anesthesia during surgery. It's also a good idea to have someone accompany you to a needle biopsy just for moral support. You won't know the final result of the biopsy until the pathologist's report comes back which can sometimes take a few days so it's just nice to have someone in the waiting room to talk to and drive home with. Remember: a breast biopsy doesn't mean you have cancer; it is simply a screening method to ensure that you don't.

   
How effective are screening measures at detecting breast cancer?

Breast Cancer Screening Saves Lives

The best advice that you can get about breast cancer screening is that early detection of breast cancer through mammograms, clinical exams, and self-exams is estimated to save thousands of lives every year. If cancer is present in your breast, detecting it early vastly improves the chances that you can be treated and cured with few or no lasting side effects. Mammograms do have their limitations. They do not always detect every kind of cancer. But for the most part, screening methods are considered the most valuable weapon in the battle against breast cancer. Unfortunately, this weapon is only as strong as the women who utilize it. Make sure you are one of them.

   
What is the difference between fine needle breast biopsy and a core needle breast biopsy?

Fine Needle Aspiration Breast Biopsy vs. Core Needle Breast Biopsy

If you or your doctor discovers a lump in your breast, your doctor may suggest a fine needle aspiration breast biopsy or a core needle breast biopsy to determine whether or not it is cancerous. The fine needle aspiration biopsy is less invasive, because the needle used is thinner than one used to draw blood. For this biopsy, your doctor will clean the area of your breast nearest to the suspicious lump with an alcohol swab and insert a fine needle into the area to retrieve the cells for examination. He may or may not numb you with a local anesthetic; but request it if you have a lower tolerance for discomfort. For a core needle biopsy, the doctor will perform an ultrasound on your breast with an ultrasound wand to locate the exact spot of the lump, a local anesthetic will be given, and the needle will be inserted into the lump (guided by pictures on the ultrasound screen). The core needle is big enough to actually extract tissue, but will not leave a scar. It may seem that the fine needle aspiration is the best way to go insofar as comfort, but this procedure is sometimes less accurate because the needle is extracting from nearby breast tissue and not directly from the lump. Also, if cells extracted from the fine needle aspiration even look suspicious, it is likely that your doctor will order a second, more invasive biopsy for a more accurate diagnosis.

   
What different methods are available to screen for breast cancer?

Understanding Breast Cancer Screening

Screening is perhaps the single most important thing women can do to prevent death or disfiguration from breast cancer. A screening is process which looks for breast cancer before there are any symptoms. The three standard breast cancer screening methods are breast exams performed by women on their own breasts, clinical breast exams performed manually by a doctor during a checkup, and mammograms, which are x-rays of the breast. It is important to do all three types of screening regularly, as recommended by your doctor. All good advice on breast cancer screening will lead you towards early detection of cancer. If you wait for symptoms to show instead of undergoing a screening, you could unknowingly be giving breast cancer a head start. Breast cancers rarely cause symptoms until they are quite large, and/or have spread beyond the breast.

   
How often should I get screened for breast cancer?

Recommended Frequency for Breast Cancer Screening

All women should start conducting monthly breast self-exams when they are in their 20s. Clinical breast exams are usually performed by your doctor every two to three years while you are in your 20s - 30s, and every year when you are over 40 years of age. (This is assuming you keep your yearly appointments with your OB-GYN for your Pap smears and pelvic exams.) The recommendation for yearly mammograms usually begins when a woman turns 40, largely because younger breasts are usually too dense and fibrous to reveal much during a mammogram. Always follow your doctor's recommendations for regular screening. You should never be too busy to keep an appointment that could save your breasts, or your life. If you are younger than 40, and concerned about a high risk for breast cancer, talk to your doctor about the possibility of alternative breast cancer detection methods, like MRIs, that can take the place of mammograms until 40 years of age.

   
Will I need a biopsy?

If Your Doctor Orders a Biopsy of Your Breast

If a lump or abnormality is discovered in your breast, your doctor will probably want to do a breast biopsy. This is a procedure in which a tissue sample is taken from your breast to be tested for cancer cells. Right now, this is the only way to know for sure if a lump is cancerous or not. Do not worry if a biopsy is recommended for you. Eighty percent of breast biopsies do not reveal cancer.

There are also new choices in how a breast biopsy can be performed. The procedure is often completed right in your doctor's office, under local anesthesia. If you are informed you need a biopsy, try to stay calm and keep a positive attitude.

   
What exactly happens during a mammogram?

The Basics Of A Mammogram

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. It can detect breast tumors before they grow large enough to be felt or seen during a breast self-exam or a clinical breast exam. During your mammogram, you will be asked to remove clothing, jewelry, and anything else that could interfere with the procedure. One at a time, your breasts will be gently flattened between two surfaces so that more of the breast tissue can be seen in the x-ray image. Few women will tell you that mammogram screening is fun, but this should not discourage you. The discomfort of having your breasts momentarily squashed for their photo shoot is a small price to pay for the peace of mind you will have when the mammogram most likely reveals that your breasts are normal. And in the rather unlikely event that the mammogram does detect an abnormality, the brief discomfort of the procedure could very well save your life.

   
What is the difference between fine needle breast biopsy and a core needle breast biopsy?

Fine Needle Aspiration Breast Biopsy vs. Core Needle Breast Biopsy

If you or your doctor discovers a lump in your breast, your doctor may suggest a fine needle aspiration breast biopsy or a core needle breast biopsy to determine whether or not it is cancerous. The fine needle aspiration biopsy is less invasive, because the needle used is thinner than one used to draw blood. For this biopsy, your doctor will clean the area of your breast nearest to the suspicious lump with an alcohol swab and insert a fine needle into the area to retrieve the cells for examination. He may or may not numb you with a local anesthetic; but request it if you have a lower tolerance for discomfort. For a core needle biopsy, the doctor will perform an ultrasound on your breast with an ultrasound wand to locate the exact spot of the lump, a local anesthetic will be given, and the needle will be inserted into the lump (guided by pictures on the ultrasound screen). The core needle is big enough to actually extract tissue, but will not leave a scar. It may seem that the fine needle aspiration is the best way to go insofar as comfort, but this procedure is sometimes less accurate because the needle is extracting from nearby breast tissue and not directly from the lump. Also, if cells extracted from the fine needle aspiration even look suspicious, it is likely that your doctor will order a second, more invasive biopsy for a more accurate diagnosis.

   
Why is a baseline mammogram important?

The Importance of a Baseline Mammogram

Out of 1,000 mammograms, only one or two women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Pretty good odds, yet, having a mammogram can be very stressful for many women. A baseline mammogram is the first step in easing your anxiety about this important breast cancer screen. The term “baseline mammogram” refers to the first mammogram a woman has. Baseline mammograms are important for you because a doctor will compare all subsequent mammograms to it. If an unusual “spot” shows up on your mammogram, and the same “spot” appears on your baseline mammogram from last year, (the same size, shape and location), a doctor will know that this is a normal part of your breast tissue, and not a new breast cancer growth. So, if you do not have a baseline mammogram, you are more likely to encounter additional follow-up procedures, like ultrasounds and biopsies, to identify anything that shows up on your mammogram as an abnormality. Be sure to take your baseline mammogram films with you whenever you move or change medical facilities. You will avoid unnecessary anxiety caused by follow-up procedures and get more accurate results.

   
If I’m sent for a breast biopsy, what are the chances I have cancer?

When the Doctor Says You Need A Breast Biopsy

If detecting a lump in your breast isn't alarming enough, being sent for a breast biopsy is! The first thing you should understand when your doctor says the words “breast biopsy” is about 75% of all biopsies are benign, or non-cancerous. The second thing you need to understand is what type of biopsy will be performed. Ask your doctor to explain the procedure and how you should prepare for your breast biopsy. It's a good idea to refrain from taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication a couple weeks before the biopsy because those types of medicines will increase bleeding and bruising. There are three main types of breast cancer biopsies: fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy or a small incision (or surgery). If you are having a surgical breast biopsy, have a friend or relative drive you to the surgery center and back home again because you will be under anesthesia during surgery. It's also a good idea to have someone accompany you to a needle biopsy just for moral support. You won't know the final result of the biopsy until the pathologist's report comes back which can sometimes take a few days so it's just nice to have someone in the waiting room to talk to and drive home with. Remember: a breast biopsy doesn't mean you have cancer; it is simply a screening method to ensure that you don't.

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Breast Cancer Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Linda Handiak