It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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When first starting, breast cancer tumors are too small to see and don’t have signs or symptoms. As they grow, it can cause:

  • A new lump in the breast
  • A lump that has changed
  • A change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Pain in the breast or nipple that does not go away
  • Flaky, red, or swollen skin anywhere on the breast
  • A nipple that is very tender or that turns inward
  • Blood or any other type of fluid coming from the nipple that is not milk when nursing a baby

Symptoms can have other causes, but the only way to know is to be checked by your doctor. Women should begin routine screenings between ages 40 and 50 unless they have a family history.  Women with a family history of breast cancer should talk to their doctor about when or how often they should be screened.

There are things you can do to help prevent breast cancer, including:

  • Staying physically active with regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, especially after menopause begins
  • Avoiding hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or finding out the risks and benefits of HRT and if it is right for you
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink

Several factors might increase your risk for developing breast cancer, including:

  • Getting older
  • Not having children, or having your first child later in life
  • Starting your first menstrual period at an early age
  • Beginning menopause at a late age
  • Having a personal history of breast cancer or certain benign breast diseases, such as atypical ductal hyperplasia
  • Having close family relatives (such as a mother, sister, father, or daughter) who have had breast cancer
  • Having a genetic condition, such as certain mutations in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
  • Having been treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest
  • Being overweight, particularly after menopause
  • Using hormone replacement therapy for a long time
  • Using oral contraceptives
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being physically inactive

If you are concerned, talk with your doctor. Screenings – called mammograms – are routine and involves a series of x-rays. Doctors can often see breast cancer much earlier than it can be felt. An abnormal mammogram does not always mean you have cancer, but your caregiver may suggest additional x-rays, an ultrasound, or even a biopsy (the removing of tissue samples for testing).  Treatment is most effective when breast cancer is detected early.

If you have questions about questions about prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer, Intermountain Healthcare and KUTV will be holding Ask The Expert on Tuesday, October 11th.  Medical experts will provide interviews on air throughout the day. Individuals with questions may also call from noon to 5:30 p.m.  at 1-877-908-0680 to speak free of charge to one of the many clinical experts, or receive answers via Facebook or Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert. For more information visit intermountainhealthcare.org/asktheexpert.

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