Taking Control: Recognizing Signs of Breast Cancer when You Have Breast Implants
- 15 April 2014
- Dr. Nidal (Nick) Masri
Breast cancer is a devastating illness that is taking the lives of many women in the United States. Most likely, there is someone in your life who has been affected by cancer, whether it’s a friend, sister, mother, daughter, wife. Because the body of knowledge in the area of breast
cancer has grown so much and awareness is so high, many woman, are taking the appropriate steps to catch breast cancer early and receive appropriate treatment during the initial stages of cancer progression.
In recent headlines, Samantha Harris, who has previously hosted Dancing with the Stars, announced that she has received a diagnosis of breast cancer. Harris notes that she had just recently had a clean mammogram before she noticed the lump in her right breast. Since the discovery, the ex-TV host has revealed to the public that she is indeed, having a double mastectomy. She tells Entertainment Tonight that she is making this decision with her family in mind. She has two young daughters, ages six and three, and she is determined to be there for them through their childhood and into their adult life. Harris lost her father when she was only 22 years old, so she understands firsthand the importance of having your parents around well into your adult life. Instead of letting cancer control her future, she is taking back the control.
And women can all take control. Most women know that breast self-examinations should be done at least once per month. In addition, it is important to have an annual mammogram. Early detection gives women the best chance at beating breast cancer. The graphic below from a California county health department shows very clearly the appropriate steps to doing your breast self-exams.
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Important things to note about breast self-exams:
- Everyone has lumps here and there. Pay close attention to their size and recognize if they seem to be growing or changing shape.
- Remember that your breasts will not necessarily show exact symmetry. This is completely normal. It is more important to pay attention to dimpling, puckering, changes in the nipples, or discharge.
- Breast cancer can strike at any age. Begin doing self-breast checks in your teenage years and continue late into your adult life.
But what if you have breast implants? Or what if you have had a mastectomy previously? Are you still at risk? Can you still develop breast cancer?
Yes, you can still develop breast cancer and yes, you should still partake in the annual mammograms and monthly self-checks. It is very important that you continue preventative care in either of these circumstances. The tissue beneath implants is completely capable of developing cancer. Check with your local facilities to find a clinic or hospital that has the appropriate equipment to do mammograms for woman with implants. Most facilities have the updated equipment, so this should not pose a problem. Even if you have had a mastectomy, or a double mastectomy, you are at risk of having cancer in the surrounding tissues. So, continue to monitor this area. Early detection is the best prevention!