Commonly Held Mammogram Myths and Beliefs

You may have heard horror stories from other women about their mammogram experiences. Your physician will make a recommendation for your first mammogram to screen for breast cancer depending on your age and other factors such as genetics. Learn common myths to help dispel anxiety and worry about undergoing this examination.

Young and Healthy

You may think that if you are young and healthy, you don’t need to worry about breast cancer. While this may be the predominant trend, breast cancer can occur in women of any age. It’s true that a person’s genetics play a major role in the development of breast cancer, but they are not the sole risk factor. Any woman can develop malignancies, regardless of family history and age. In fact, about 85 percent of all women who develop the disease do not have a family history of the illness. Even if you perform breast self-exams monthly and think that you don’t have any lumps, it’s still important to undergo the test. This procedure can detect the tiniest tumors as long as three years before it’s possible to feel them manually. At their earliest stages, tumors are often very treatable.

Radiation Risks

While it’s true that a mammogram involves radiation, the levels are minimal. The procedure exposes a patient to 0.4 millisieverts of radiation. You can compare this to the amount of radiation a typical person would be exposed to over a period of about seven weeks. The average radiation exposure over a one-year period for the typical population is 3 millisieverts.

Exam Expense

At one time, this diagnostic procedure was expensive, and insurance may not have always covered the examination completely. Fortunately, this is no longer the case. The Affordable Care Act dictates that mammogram procedures are free, never involving copays or deductibles. It’s also possible to schedule an appointment for a free exam at clinics designed to provide free health care to women, and those with Medicare should be covered for free, as well.

Discomfort Level

It’s a commonly held belief that you will suffer pain and discomfort during a mammogram. You may experience discomfort during the actual procedure. However, each breast will be compressed for only about 20 or 30 seconds, a short time considering the importance of the examination. You can take steps to minimize your discomfort. First, schedule your test for the first week after your period ends if you are premenopausal. Secondly, take an over-the-counter analgesic about one hour before the test to help you manage any discomfort. As you undergo the test, use breathing exercises and imagery to help reduce any pain you experience.

Take time out of your busy schedule to attend to this basic health care need. Even when you eat a healthy diet and engage in regular exercise, you can’t completely eliminate your risk for breast cancer. The entire procedure usually takes between 15 and 30 minutes from start to finish. Once you’re done, you can feel confident that you are doing your part to take care of your health.

Breast Cancer, The Most Frequently Diagnosed Cancer In Women

The latest data from National Cancer Institute revealed that about 232,340 female and about 2,240 male are diagnosed with breast cancer in the USA annually and death counts reaches up to 40,000 each year. The numbers are stunning, but the good news is that this cancer will be fading away soon as researchers work hard to find their way through. In fact, breast cancer incidence is still higher in developed countries like the USA in contrast to developing countries in Asia and Africa. This is attributed to the difference in lifestyle and life expectancy between different regions.
Breast cancer develops as a consequence of exposure to different risk factors. Age and gender is already an established risk factor for this cancer. Females that are 40 years old or older have higher risk of developing it compared to males. Family history is also a key risk factor. Studies have shown that females have 4 times higher risk of developing breast cancer in the presence of first degree relatives with the disease, and five times higher if there are at least three members of the family who have this disease. Moreover, a history of ovarian cancer in the family is also associated to increase risk of acquiring breast cancer. Lifestyle related factors such as obesity, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are also risk factors. Other risk factors that are important to mention are getting pregnant at a later age, not being able to bear a child, and an early onset of menses and late age of menopause. These are all hormone-related risk factors proven to contribute to increased risk of exposing to this disease.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer aren’t specific, but are obvious and they could show in variety of ways. Typically, alterations of the normal breast size, shape and color are the earliest signs and these could include a presence of a lump in one or both breasts, a rash around the nipples, nipples become inverted and may have abnormal discharges such as blood. There are also probabilities that a patient could feel pain on the breast or on the armpits. Observing any of these signs and symptoms warrant a checkup to a doctor for a more detailed examination of the breast.
Diagnosis of breast cancer is pretty straightforward. It can be suspected if the patient presents with the signs and symptoms mentioned above and those symptoms could be confirmed by an imaging study such as breast ultra-sonography or mammography. A breast mass biopsy is also needed to find out whether the mass or masses are benign or malignant in nature. Results of these studies will determine the appropriate management of breast cancer.

Surgery is still the mainstay of management of breast cancer especially those who have been diagnosed early. It has been proven to cure this cancer without the need of adjuvant treatment. Adjuvant treatment such as radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal therapy are usually reserved to those cases that are too late to be managed by surgery alone.

There is a steady decrease in mortality rates of breast cancer over the last two decades primarily because of the advancement in medical and surgical technology as well increased awareness of those individuals at risk for developing the said disease. However, this is not uniform in all parts of the world. Developing countries still struggle to get enough support from the government to push forward programs that increase awareness about this disease. There’s still a lot need to be done to conquer the fight against breast cancer as well as other types of cancer.

Massage Improves Immune Function in Women With Breast Cancer

Massages not only help you relax but have many other benefits such as supporting the healing process, boosting your energy levels, eases pain, lifts your mood and an over-all feeling of well-being. It is a “hands on” treatment meaning a therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body. There are a variety of massages that go from gentle stroking (also known as effleurage) and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to a deeper more intense technique.

This is what happens while getting a massage. The therapist proceeds to massage soft tissue which transmits electrical signals to local areas of the body and also throughout the body. In the process, these signals help heal damaged muscle, improve circulation, detoxify by getting rid of waste products via the lymphatic system, boosts the immune system, reduces pain and creates a calming effect.

There is scientific evidence that shows how effective massage can be in reducing pain and improving quality of life in cancer patients, people with autism, back pain, atopic dermatitis, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), bulimia, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and arthritis. It is also very useful for lowering blood pressure.

Now let’s spend a little time discussing breast cancer. The term “breast cancer” is when there is an abnormal growth of cells which come together to form one or more tumors in the breast. Both men and women can have breast cancer but as we are all aware of it does occur more in women. Statistics show that approximately 230,000 women and 2,300 men in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Breast cancer most commonly occurs in the cells of the ducts (tubes that carry milk from the lobule to the nipple) known as ductal cancer but can also occur in the cells that line the lobules (milk-producing glands) known as lobular cancer. It can also occur in the fatty and fibrous tissues of the breast, although, this happens less frequently.

Another important fact is the main cause of breast cancer is when a mistake is made during cell division (a genetic abnormality). Abnormal cells inherited from your parents only cause 5-10% of cancers. The largest percentage 85-90% of breast cancers occurs because of the aging process (genetic abnormalities forming along the way).

Now that we have an overview of massage and breast cancer let’s check out this study.

Researchers investigated how effective massage could be on immune function and stress in women with breast cancer. They enrolled thirty women, 50 to 75 years of age with breast cancer undergoing 5 weeks of adjuvant radiation therapy.

The protocol was 15 women were to be administered massage in the form of a full-body light pressure effleurage treatment for 45 minutes, and the other 15 women – the control group – were given an equal amount of attention but no massage.

The results were the massage group experienced significant reduction in the deterioration of NK cell activity which occurs during radiation treatment while the control group did not. This translates into the massage was able to boost the women’s immune systems. The massage group also experienced decreased heart rate and blood pressure indicating they were less stressed than the control group.