One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Though the statistics are alarming, there is some good news — breast cancer has a 5-year relative survival rate of nearly 100 percent when it’s detected early!
To help increase your chances for a successful treatment, here are the 3 main steps to achieving an early diagnosis, provided by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF):
How familiar are you with your breasts? Do you know how they normally look and feel throughout the month? The better you know your breasts, the easier it will be to detect any abnormal changes that need a doctor’s attention. Be on the lookout for lumps, thickening, changes in shape and size, dimpling or puckering, discharge, or red, scaly, swollen skin.
2. Well-Woman Exam
The NBCF recommends that all women receive a Well-Woman exam once a year. Performed by your primary care physician or gynecologist, a Well-Woman exam includes a routine pelvic exam and pap smear in addition to a brief breast exam. This routine visit is the perfect time to discuss your breast health.
A yearly mammogram may save your life, which is why the NBCF recommends that all women ages 40 and older receive a mammogram, or x-ray of the breast. Mammograms detect breast cancer in its early stages before any symptoms appear—when breast cancer is localized and easier to treat.
Award-winning breast surgeon Dr. Tanya A. Atagi is one of the few female plastic surgeons in Denver. She values the importance of self-care and prevention, and encourages her patients to take a pro-active approach for living their most vibrant, joyful lives.