Breasts are always changing due to menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. Breast tissue is made up of glands, fibrous and fat tissue and the consistency will change due to changes in hormones. Getting to know what your breasts feel like (self breast exam) is important to notice changes and new findings that can occur. Tell your physician if you notice any changes.
Breast problems in women are mostly minor or benign and symptoms can include: breast lumps, nipple discharge and tenderness. Breast lumps need to be evaluated by your physician and possible testing may be needed. Nipple discharge, if clear or white, may be normal in a woman that has had children, but may be due to other health problems. Tenderness most likely is not a sign of a serious problem and may be related to dietary intake. The more symptoms, in relation to a woman’s age, may give your physician a good indication of the severity of the symptoms.
Screening for breast problems should include mammography (every 1 to 2 years), physician breast exam (yearly) and self breast exam on a monthly basis.
Mammography – screening is indicated for women starting at age 40 and every 1 to 2 years thereafter
Physician breast exam – is recommended yearly starting at age 18
Self breast exam – recommended on a monthly basis (ask your physician for a shower card or instructions if needed)
This type of cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. If diagnosed early, the cure and survival rates are high.
High risk factors include:
- Family history of BRCA1 and BRCA2
- Family history of breast cancer
- Personal history of breast, uterine, ovarian or colon cancer
- Older age
- No pregnancies or first pregnancy over age 30
- Early start of menses (under age 12)
- Late Menopause (over age 55)
- Never breastfed a child
- Postmenopausal obesity
- Alcohol intake - moderate
- Recent hormone use (contraceptive pills and HRT)
Low risk factors include:
- Pregnancy early in life (<age 20)
- Ovaries removed (<age 40)
- Early menopause (<age 50)
If you have any questions about your breast health or have concerns about your family history with breast issues, please do not hesitate to call our office to talk to a nurse or provider.
Another great resource for breast health information can be found on the Susan G. Komen website.