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Mid Coast Center for Community Health & Wellness Newsletter
July 2021
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Breast Cancer Awareness & Prevention

Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention

In the United States, breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. 

Mammograms are the best screening tool we have to find breast cancer early, when it may be easier to treat. Breast cancer can start in any area of the breast. If it is caught before spreading to the lymph nodes, it has more than a 90 percent five-year survival rate.

Beginning at age 40, it is recommended all women have an annual mammogram. After you and your health care professional establish a screening schedule, it will help to know what to expect so it can go as smoothly as possible.

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer 

Risk factors are just as important as maintaining your care, especially if you are in a high-risk category. Some risk factors that you cannot change include:

  • Being born female
  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Inherited gene changes
  • Starting menstruation early or late menopause
  • Dense breast tissue

Other lifestyle-related risk factors that can be limited, or completely eliminated, include:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being overweight, limited to no physical activity
  • Getting hormone therapy (after menopause with estrogen and progesterone therapy)
  • Use of certain types of birth control
  • Having a history of non-cancerous breast conditions

Signs and Symptoms

Most signs and symptoms of breast cancer can easily be detected at home.

The most common sign to look for is a new lump or mass in the breast; however, that does not always mean it is cancerous. Other signs can include swelling of all or some part of the breast, nipple pain or retraction, nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaky, swollen or thickened, or swollen lymph nodes. If any of these symptoms appear, it is important to consult your healthcare provider with these concerns.

A mammogram is important because it will show any changes or concerns in your breast tissue and helps to identify if a person might have breast cancer. Early detection is key to successful treatment.

When getting a mammogram, there are different types to know about.

  • A screening mammogram is your routine, annual mammogram, whereas a diagnostic mammogram is done when a patient has signs or symptoms of breast disease or a possible abnormality was detected on a screening mammogram. 
  • A 3D mammogram, also known as Digital Breast Tomography (DBT), is the most advanced mammogram available. DBT takes a digital image of the breast and creates a more detailed picture than a conventional 2D mammogram can alone, allowing for a higher cancer detection rate.

Most commonly, no further testing is needed after a screening, however, your doctor will review your ultrasound results and review them with the technologist. If more testing is needed, your doctor will discuss next steps with you.

Mid Coast Hospital Women’s Imaging is conveniently located at 81 Medical Center Drive, Brunswick. For more information, please visit www.midcoasthealth.com/diagnostics, or call (207) 373-6630 Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. to schedule an appointment or to ask any questions you may have.

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