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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Look at Mammograms
Photo courtesy of cdc.gov
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Are you starting to see pink ribbons everywhere you go? During the month of October, the Sussex County Office of Public Health Nursing is joining the rest of the United States to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is a cancer that primarily affects women and, although rare, men. Uncontrollable cell growth, or cancer, can develop in three different areas of the breast. The lobules, where milk is created, and the ducts, that carry milk to the nipple, are the two most common areas for breast cancer development. The third area is the connective fatty tissue that surrounds the ducts and lobules; this type of breast cancer is less common than the other two.
There are many factors that can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. The two main factors are simply being a woman and getting older. Genetics, family history, reproductive history, having dense breasts, and being overweight are also factors that can put you at risk for developing breast cancer.
Symptoms of breast cancer include:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm.
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Different people can have different symptoms after developing breast cancer, and some may not show any symptoms at all. This is why regular screening for those who are at risk is important. Screening for breast cancer checks for the signs and symptoms of the disease. Screening does not prevent breast cancer, but it does help to detect it early enough so the treatment is more effective.
There are different kinds of tests that doctors may perform to screen for breast cancer. Mammograms, clinical breast exams, ultrasounds, and MRIs for those who are high risk are the most common. It is recommended that women who are between 50 and 74 years of age should receive a mammogram every two years, and that women who are between the ages of 40-49 speak with their doctor about when they should start screening.
If you would like to start screening for breast cancer, call your doctor's office for help scheduling an appointment. Most insurance plans are required to cover mammograms every one to two years for women age 40 and older.
If you are concerned about the cost of a screening mammogram because of your insurance status, the New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection (NJCEED) Program offers screening mammograms to uninsured or underinsured residents of Sussex County.
For more information on the NJCEED program, contact the Office of Public Health Nursing at 973-579-0570, extension 1246, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Pre-registration is required, and you must have an appointment as walk-ins will not be accepted.
Photo courtesy of nj.gov