According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. One in nine American women develops the disease. This is why it is so important to examine your breasts monthly for the early signs of breast cancer.
Your doctor can teach you breast self-examination and may recommend a mammogram, a low-dose x-ray of the breast that can detect a lump before it can be felt. In addition to lumps, other signs to look for include changes in the nipple, puckering in the skin of the breast, bleeding or other discharge from the nipple, or an unusual rash on the breast or nipple.
Mammography is recommended for women in higher risk groups, including women over the age of fifty, women who have had no children or have had a first child after thirty, and women with a close relative who has had breast cancer. Most breast lumps are benign (be-nine). About 20 percent of breast lumps are malignant, but when cancer is found, early treatment offers the best chance for a cure. A biopsy will be performed to make a diagnosis if a suspicious area is seen on a mammogram. If cancer is detected, it will most likely require surgery. The surgical procedure may be a lumpectomy (lump-eck-toe-mee), the removal of the tumor followed by radiation. A mastectomy, the complete removal of the breast, may also be necessary.
Remember, the best tool in the fight against breast cancer is early detection.
For additional information, be sure to visit The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website.