Breast Health

Breast health is different for each woman – it starts by knowing what’s normal, what isn’t and when to consult your doctor. The world-renowned experts at Banner Health can help you be proactive about your breast health as well as diagnose and treat any breast issues you may be experiencing.

Preventive Care for Breast Health

For women, preventing breast cancer is typically a main concern. Catching problems early is crucial to giving you a better chance of successful treatment. Get to know how your breasts normally look and feel to help you notice changes easily. Changes you should look for include:

  • Leaky fluid or discharge
  • Lumps
  • Swelling
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Nipple problems such as pain, flaking, redness or in some cases, inversion

If you notice any of these changes, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there are several ways women can be proactive about their breast health, such as:

Clinical Breast Exams (CBE): These exams are usually performed by a healthcare provider during your physical exam to check for breast problems. Women should receive a CBE every 1 to 3 years between the ages of 29 and 39.

Mammograms: Mammogram screenings are low-dose x-rays that help find cancer or other problems before you even feel a lump. Annual mammograms are recommended for all women, ages 40-54. Women 55 and older can choose to continue annual screenings or reduce to every two years.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast grow uncontrollably, damaging the surrounding tissue and interfering with the normal functions of the breast. These cancerous cells can also spread to the rest of the body. Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center provides a comprehensive breast program that provides screenings, diagnosis, treatment and recovery support.

Risk factors of breast cancer include exposure to chemicals or other substances, certain behaviors, age or family history.

Symptoms of breast cancer van vary from woman to woman. Remember, early detection is key to successful treatment, which is why it’s so important to know what is normal for your breasts. Signs and symptoms of breast cancer can include a lump or mass in the breast, enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit, changes in breast size, shape, skin texture or color, skin redness, dimpling or puckering, nipple changes or discharge.

Screenings for breast cancer are usually fully covered by most insurance providers and include mammograms. Women ages 25 to 29 should get a clinical breast exam every 1 to 3 years. Women 40 and older should get a clinical breast exam and mammogram every year.

If breast cancer is diagnosed, the world-renowned team at Banner MD Anderson treats all types of breast cancer with a multidisciplinary approach. Breast cancer treatment options depend on several factors, including the stage and type of cancer and overall health conditions.

Banner MD Anderson’s breast cancer treatments include surgery, breast reconstruction, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapies.

Non-Cancerous Breast Conditions

Some breast abnormalities are not associated with breast cancer. Benign, or non-cancerous, breast conditions include:

  • Mastitis
  • Lipoma
  • Neurofibroma
  • Hematoma
  • Breast Cysts
  • Fibrosis
  • Ductal Hyperplasia

Breast Health Screenings and Diagnostics

Whether or not you have a family history of breast cancer or are showing any symptoms, screenings play a vital role in early detection and treatment of any breast issues.

Regular breast self-exams should be performed on a monthly basis to ensure there haven’t been any changes to your breast.

Mammograms should be performed annually by your healthcare provider between the ages of 45 and 54, and every 2 years after age 55.

Breast ultrasounds are performed to diagnose breast lumps or any other abnormalities that were found during a physical exam or mammogram.

Breast MRIs are typically performed after a positive cancer biopsy for your doctor to get more information about the extent of the disease. For women who have a high risk of breast cancer, a strong family history or carry a hereditary gene mutation, an MRI is used in tandem with mammograms to detect breast cancer.

Breast Health Surgery Options

If breast cancer is detected, there are surgery options to reduce your risk or remove malignant breast cancer tumors.

Breast Reduction

For some women who are at risk for breast cancer, removing breast tissue in a breast reduction offers a significant reduction in risk.

Lumpectomy

Women who have a lump, either benign or cancerous, can opt for a lumpectomy where a surgeon removes a tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it, leaving most of the breast intact.

Mastectomy

Women who have a very high risk of breast cancer or have a tumor can opt for a mastectomy. A mastectomy is a type of surgery that removes the entire breast. In many cases, this also includes the nipple and areola.

Breast Reconstruction

In some cases, breast reconstruction is performed at the same time as a mastectomy. Breast reconstruction recreates all parts of the breast that were surgically removed using a breast implant or tissue from another part of the body. This type of surgery helps breasts look natural and balanced when the patient is wearing clothing.

No matter how old you are, breast health is important. The compassionate team at Banner Health is always here to provide information and help you with your breast health journey.