Knowing Your Body: The importance of breast cancer screenings, early detection

Breast Cancer

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Knowing when something isn’t right and getting it checked out is the advice an Amarillo doctor has when it comes to breast cancer detection and prevention.

“It’s such a preventable thing because we have mammograms and we have all these tools at our fingertips,” said Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Teresa Baker.

Dr. Baker said the number of people diagnosed with breast cancer shock people.

“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer lifelong, and that number is a big number and it gets bigger as we age,” said Dr. Baker.

This is why she says it is so important to know your body and watch for signs of the disease.

“The term they use is you should have ‘good breast self-awareness,'” said Dr. Baker. “You should get to know your breasts so that if, you know, you feel something that you’ve never felt before, that should get your attention.”

Dr. Baker said something to look out for are lumps and bumps that feel fixed to you.

“A lump that feels like it’s fixed, and you can’t really move it, or that has very sharp edges or that you feel almost like a rock, that would be concerning,” said Dr. Baker.

Other things she said to be on the lookout for are nipple discharge and skin changes.

“Nipple discharge, obviously, always gets our attention. That’s really frightening, is if it’s one-sided, if it’s bloody, and if it happens without trying.”

“Skin changes. So if when you’re looking in the mirror, if you raise your arms and you see dimpling in an area that we didn’t see that before, or you see skin changes, like the skin on the outside looks … orange or thickened area of skin, that should get your attention,” said Dr. Baker.

She also said mammograms are key to breast cancer detection and prevention.

“Without any symptoms, then we start at 40 and it’s a mammogram every year, or every other year, whatever you’re comfortable with, until 50. Then every year after 50, because again, as we age, the likelihood that we’re going to diagnose breast cancer goes up,” said Dr. Baker

Doctor baker said it’s also important to review your family history with your doctor, especially if you have a close member who has had breast cancer.

“If you have had a first-degree relative, meaning your mom or your sister, or someone like that, have breast cancer, especially pre-menopausal breast cancer, those have genetic risks associated with them. If you have that in your family, please don’t hide from us. Come in and let us talk to you because there are lots of things we can do to mitigate risk,” said Dr. Baker.

All of this does not just go for women. Dr. Baker said men also develop breast cancer.

“If any gentleman finds a lump in his breast, they should be evaluated,” said Dr. Baker. “That’s another huge genetic risk. If there is male breast cancer in your family, your personal chance of breast cancer, genetic breast cancer, is increased and you need to be screened genetically.”

An important note Dr. Baker added was that in the State of Texas, no one needs a doctor’s order to get a mammogram. You can request one as a patient.

Her overall message is the disease is curable if caught early.

“As medicine evolves, we’re getting better and better at breast cancer treatment,” said Dr. Baker. “If we catch it early, we can cure it and you can go on to have all the dreams that you’ve ever want.”

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