What to Do When You Discover a Lump

It may be alarming to discover a lump in your breast. However understanding the following steps can arm you with necessary data.

Within the WebMD webinar
“What to Do When You Discover a Lump,”
Stephanie Bernik, MD, defined the steps you must take. She talked about breast adjustments that should be checked, well being circumstances aside from breast most cancers that is likely to be the trigger, whether or not breast self-exams are helpful, and extra. 

Bernik is the chief of breast service at Mount Sinai West in New York and affiliate professor of surgical procedure on the Icahn College of Drugs at Mount Sinai.

“In the event you discover a mass, do not panic. There are such a lot of issues that may be benign (non-cancerous), particularly in people who find themselves menstruating,” says Bernik. “However definitely do not ignore a discovering.”

Ballot Questions

Some life-style habits can cut back your publicity to estrogen. Excessive ranges of estrogen are linked to an elevated danger of breast most cancers and different well being circumstances. 

A ballot of webinar viewers discovered that 40% cut back their estrogen publicity with common train. That’s adopted by 27% who keep away from estrogen-increasing hormone-replacement remedy (HRT). 

Query: I restrict my publicity to estrogen by:

  • Getting common train: 40%

  • Avoiding HRT: 27%

  • Decreasing fats in my eating regimen: 20%

  • Ingesting little or no alcohol: 11%

One other webinar ballot requested about recognized dangers for breast most cancers. Being feminine was a breast most cancers danger for 41% of viewers, in comparison with over 30% who’ve breast most cancers of their household historical past. 

Query: My breast most cancers dangers embrace:

  • Being feminine: 41%

  • Household historical past: 32%

  • Beginning intervals early: 13%

  • Being postmenopausal and taking hormone remedy: 7%

  • Beginning menopause late: 4%

What’s a Breast Self-Examination?

It’s a option to
test your breasts for adjustments. Whereas it was extra fashionable, medical doctors now warn towards its overuse.

“The issue we’ve got discovered with self-breast exams is that individuals are inclined to really feel an excessive amount of,” says Bernik. 

“That creates a false constructive. For instance, in the event you really feel one thing however the medical doctors do not see something, you’ll have to get surgical procedure to have a tissue analysis.”

Whereas it’s necessary to pay attention to any change in your breasts, it’s additionally good to know that you simply’ll really feel the fats areas in your breasts throughout a self-exam as effectively. These will not be harmful lumps. Feeling an excessive amount of can create unneeded anxiousness for you.

“We are saying you must sweep your breasts within the bathe. Ensure you’re not feeling something apparent. In the event you do really feel one thing, you may’t ignore it,” she says.

When to See Your Physician A few Lump

In the event you discover a breast mass and also you’ve been by means of
, call your doctor and schedule an exam. 

“Most cancers will be in postmenopausal women,” says Bernik. “But just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean you can’t get cancer.”

If you haven’t been through menopause, wait to see if the lump is still there after your next period. If it doesn’t go away, see your doctor.

Viewer Questions

How do breast implants affect breast cancer risk?

What’s the link between stress and breast cancer?

How does breast reduction surgery affect breast cancer risk?

Implants can make some breast tissue unclear when you have a mammogram. With
, even if they’re silicone, it’s suggested you have more mammograms. You should be adding an MRI at least every 3 years in addition to the screening mammogram and/or an ultrasound if you’re 40 or older.

Several years ago, we had textured implants that were mostly silicone. They were used because they really held their shape. While it was rare, they were linked to lymphoma. We don’t use those implants anymore. But we also don’t rush to take them out unless there’s a reason. If there is, then those implants are removed and replaced with different ones.

Stress can increase your risk of breast cancer, as it causes inflammatory reactions in your body. On a microscopic level, those factors affect cells, which raises your risk of cancer. Stress isn’t good for your body, not just in terms of breast cancer, but for every organ system.

You want to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating a nutritious diet, exercising, trying to keep alcohol to a minimum, and lowering your stress. All of these help lower your risk of cancer.

Nothing eliminates your risk of breast cancer. But if you have a genetic risk of it, you might have a prophylactic mastectomy. This is surgery that can remove a lot of your breast tissue. Through that, we can lower your risk by 90%, which is lower than the general population. 

How do you know if you’re a BRCA carrier?

Does having an aunt with breast cancer increase your risk?

Why are women more likely to develop breast cancer as they age?

We screen a lot more people for
than we used to because the cost of the genetic tests has gone down. You can do screening for BRCA for about $250. 

Some people get the test just to know if they carry the mutation or not. But in general, the screening is recommended if you have:

  • Triple-negative cancer yourself

  • Male breast cancer in your family

  • A history of breast and ovarian cancer

  • Several relatives who’ve had breast cancer

In terms of your cancer risk related to your family history, we like to do a little probing. We ask about other cancers in your family on your father’s and mother’s side.

Just because you don’t have a first-degree relative with cancer, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a risk. You need to dive more into your genetics. 

Cancers can skip a generation. So you can have a mother who didn’t have breast cancer, but she’s a carrier. She may have three sisters, your aunts, with breast cancer. You have to look at the whole story.

People are more likely to develop breast cancer as they age. That’s because as you age, you’re at a higher risk of all sorts of cancers. This is because your cells are older. 

In your body, you have repair tools. There are always breaks in your DNA, but your body tends to fix those. If your body fails to fix a break in your DNA, that can cause cancer. As you age, there are more of these breaks in your DNA because your cells are older and not functioning as well.

Is there a best or worst time in your cycle to have a mammogram?

Should you get an ultrasound annually with a mammogram if you have dense breasts? 

Should you have mammograms as long as you live?

We don’t usually time
to your cycle. But the best time to get a mammogram would probably be on days 7 to 14 of your cycle. It’s hard to predict that because cycles can sometimes have something that throws them off. So people tend to schedule mammograms at any point in their cycle.

If you have dense breasts, your ultrasound and mammogram recommendations will vary a little bit based on what state you’re in. Some states will put a statement on the mammogram if there’s dense breast tissue. Then, you have to speak to your doctor to see if extra screening is needed.

If you have dense breast tissue, some states automatically add an ultrasound. But it does vary, so always read your mammogram. If it says “heterogeneously dense” anywhere on your mammogram, you should ask for an ultrasound as well.

If you’re expected to live more than 5 years, breast surgeons suggest we continue to screen you for breast cancer. Guidelines say you can stop at 75. But people are living much longer than that. These large-scale guidelines look at the general population and not at the person as an individual.

Even if the guidelines say you don’t need screening, you should consider doing it. Even if you’re 85. If you’re still healthy, you should continue getting screened.

Watch a replay of the WebMD webinar

“What to Do When You Find a Lump.”

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