Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We’ve had cooler air, the Kern County Fair, and now…preventative care? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

If you haven’t already had your annual exam, scheduling one during breast cancer awareness month would be of benefit. During your annual exam, your physician will perform a physical exam to evaluate you for treatment. This includes your breast exam. The findings of your breast exam will allow your physician to refer you for a screening or diagnostic mammogram.

How often should I get a breast exam?

While your OBGYN will perform one at your annual exam, it is important to self-examine your breasts once a month. This monthly practice will establish a familiarity with the tissue in your breasts and will alert you if there are any new lumps or bumps. It is easiest to examine your breasts in the shower, starting from the inside near the nipple moving outward, going clockwise. If you find any abnormal lumps or bumps, it is important to follow up with your OBGYN.

What happens if my physician finds something abnormal during my breast exam?

She/he will most likely refer you for a diagnostic mammogram or breast ultrasound to a facility that is covered by your insurance.

What is the difference between a screening mammogram and diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is a preventative measure for bilateral breasts. Even if your physician does not find any abnormal findings, a screening mammogram can detect changes in the breast up to two years before a physician can find them. Screening mammograms are often completely covered by your insurance. Diagnostic mammograms may look at a finding in either breast, bilateral or could be accompanied by a breast ultrasound, which provides additional imaging.

Can I just have a breast Ultrasound instead?

While breast ultrasounds can provide useful information in finding a diagnosis, mammograms are still preferred for the standard of care. Mammograms with breast US are a way for a physician to look at the breast in a variety of ways and work together to provide the physician with a comprehensive diagnosis to better treat the patient.

With the holidays quickly approaching, and life gets busier, it may feel okay to skip your annual exam; especially if you have received your flu vaccine and are healthy.  After all, you can go next year, right? While these thoughts are tempting, preventative care is how physicians stop a stage 1 from becoming a stage 2 or 3. Preventative care is all in the title. It prevents you from serious ailments that can affect the quality of your life. To take the first step in preventing breast cancer, schedule an appointment today. To learn more about breast cancer awareness, check out this website for more information.

Breast cancer awareness month is a celebration of life and to support those afflicted. Breast cancer prevention starts with you. Take the first step in preventing breast cancer today.

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