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:

  • Lumps
  • Unusual or new discharge or fluid drainage from the nipple
  • 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:

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 age 40 and older. Women at elevated risk for breast cancer may qualify for mammograms at a younger age and/or additional screening tests. All women should have a discussion with their healthcare provider to determine their breast cancer risk level.

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 age 25-39. Women age 40 and older should receive a CBE every year.

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 age, family history, genetic predisposition, environmental exposure as well as sedentary lifestyle. All women should have a discussion with their healthcare provider to determine their breast cancer risk.

Symptoms of breast cancer van vary from person to person. 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. All insurance plans completely cover screening mammograms, with no out-of-pocket costs. All women age 40 and older should have a mammogram once per year. Women ages 25 to 29 should get a clinical breast exam every 1 to 3 years.

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
  • Breast Cysts
  • Ductal Hyperplasia without Atypia
  • Breast Abscess
  • Fibroadenoma
  • Breast Pain

The experts at Banner Health can help evaluate and treat these conditions.

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.

Annual mammograms are recommended for all women age 40 and older. Women at elevated risk for breast cancer may qualify for mammograms at a younger age and/or additional screening tests. All women should have a discussion with their healthcare provider to determine their breast cancer risk level.

Some women have an elevated breast cancer risk due to a strong family history of breast cancer or a hereditary gene mutation. For these high-risk women, breast MRI may be used in tandem with mammograms to detect breast cancer. All women should have a discussion with their healthcare provider to determine their breast cancer risk level.

If your screening mammogram is abnormal, or you have a lump or mass, the Undiagnosed Breast Clinic at Banner MD Anderson can evaluate any breast problem and help determine the best tests for diagnosis and treatment.

Breast Health Surgical Options

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

Lumpectomy

During a lumpectomy for cancer, the surgeon removes the tumor and a small rim of normal tissue around it, leaving most of the breast intact. In some cases, a lumpectomy may also be performed for non-cancerous lesions.

Mastectomy

During a mastectomy, the surgeon removes all the breast tissue. A mastectomy can be done to treat breast cancer, though it may also be offered to women who have a very high risk of developing breast cancer. Sometimes the skin and/or nipple may be spared during a mastectomy to aid with breast reconstruction.

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction helps to restore the appearance of the breast after treatment.  Breast reconstruction is commonly considered after a mastectomy, but options may also be available for patients who want to restore the shape of their breasts after a lumpectomy. Reconstruction may be immediate or delayed, and a plastic surgeon can help you determine what type of reconstruction is most appropriate.

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.