Breast Cancer Screenings in MA & RI
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting American women after skin cancer. Each year in the United States, about 230,000 women find out they have breast cancer. Because this cancer is so common, it’s important that you regularly get screened for breast cancer so that in a case of a diagnosis you can begin your treatment plan immediately. Southcoast Health provides various screening and treatment services to help you or your loved ones deal with breast cancer, wherever you are on your journey.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the breast tissue. There are many different types of breast cancer:
- Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an early, stage 0, type of breast cancer that represents about one in five new cases. It only affects the cells lining the milk ducts and is a very treatable form of breast cancer.
- Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer, starting in the milk ducts and invading the surrounding fatty breast tissue.
- Invasive lobular carcinoma accounts for about one in 10 breast cancers, which starts in the milk-producing glands and then gradually invades other tissues.
- Paget disease of the nipple, Phyllodes tumor and angiosarcoma are less common types of breast cancer that are considered inflammatory.
The type of breast cancer you are diagnosed with is determined by cancer screening tests. Your doctor will also run tests to see if the cancer has spread beyond the breast. Depending on the breast cancer screening results, your doctor will come up with the best treatment plan for you.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Breast cancer is the most common cancer found in women, but unfortunately experts still don’t fully understand what causes the disease. Being a biological female is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer. Other risk factors include:
- Age – middle-aged women are at a higher risk of breast cancer
- Caucasian race
- Family or personal history of breast cancer
- Personal history of dense breast tissue and other breast conditions
- Early menstruation before age 12 or late menopause after age 55
- DES (diethylstilbestrol) exposure
- Hereditary genetic mutations
As with other cancers and illnesses, lifestyle factors also play a huge role in one’s risk for breast cancer. Being overweight, smoking, and consuming alcohol and unhealthy foods on a regular basis can also increase your risk for breast cancer. Consult with your doctor on how to live a healthier lifestyle in order to decrease your risks for breast cancer.
When to See a Doctor for Breast Cancer
Screening tests will be able to detect breast cancer before symptoms develop. The first symptom of breast cancer is usually a lump or mass in the breast tissue. Other symptoms include:
- Change in size, shape or appearance of the breast or nipple
- Inverted nipple or nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk
- Skin changes on the breast or nipple
- Swelling of part or all of the breast
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your health care provider right away to schedule a mammogram screening. Mammogram screenings are the most common breast cancer screening tests that will be able to detect the disease before any symptoms develop.
Breast Cancer Screenings and Treatment at Southcoast Health
If you have any risk factors or are experiencing possible symptoms of breast cancer, please do not hesitate to trust your cancer prevention & treatment to our doctors at Southcoast Health. Your treatment for breast cancer will depend on many factors, including the specific type and stage of the disease. We offer breast cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, and surgery.
Our experienced specialists at one of our primary care locations in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island will evaluate your situation and come up with a personalized treatment plan for your needs. Schedule an appointment or contact Southcoast Health today for more information.