October is breast cancer awareness month. Every year, the National Breast Cancer Foundation uses this month to provide women with breast cancer education, screening, treatment, and support. Breast cancer awareness is extremely important to our firm as we’ve met hundreds of clients who have developed breast cancer from environmental contaminants, harmful drugs, and defective products.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Most women with breast cancer require surgery to treat it. Not only can early screening give you peace of mind, it can save your life. It can also make it much easier to treat and can improve health outcomes.
How Do Doctors Screen for Breast Cancer?
One of the ways doctors may detect breast cancer is through a breast examination. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women in their 20s and 30s should have a breast exam every one to three years. Once they turn 40, women should have a breast exam every year. Mammograms are also used for early breast cancer screening by taking an x-ray of the breast.
If doctors notice any lumps or irregularities in these initial screenings, they may request further testing such as:
- Breast ultrasounds: This may be performed to determine whether the potential breast cancer is a cyst filled with fluid or a solid tumor.
- Mammograms: Doctors may request a second mammogram to further inspect the possible breast cancer.
- MRI scans: This may be used to assess the size of the cancer and look for any other tumors in the breast.
- Nipple discharge exams: If fluid is coming from the nipple, the fluid may be sent to a lab to check for cancer cells.
These tests suggest that cancer is likely present, but getting a breast biopsy is the only way to know for certain that you have breast cancer. In a biopsy, the doctor will take out small pieces of breast tissue to determine if there are any cancer cells present.
Benefits of Early Screening
Sometimes, women may not have any breast cancer symptoms, which is why early screening is so important to detect abnormalities. When no symptoms are present, this is usually a better sign of a positive outcome for the patient because it means the cancer is still in its early stages. In its early stages, there are more ways to treat breast cancer. Women also have a much higher survival rate.
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Stages of Breast Cancer
The stages of breast cancer are related to how the cancer has spread throughout the breast or the body. Depending on how far the cancer has spread, doctors will determine the stage of the cancer and decide what treatment option would be most effective.
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, make sure to ask your doctor the stage of your cancer. Lower numbers mean that the breast cancer is still in its early stages. A higher number means the cancer is more serious and has spread outside of the breasts.
Breast Cancer Treatments
After understanding the breast cancer stage, doctors will come up with a treatment plan. There are alternative methods for treating breast cancer. Treatment plans may be based on:
- Whether the cancer is stage 1, 2, 3, or 4
- The likelihood of the treatment curing the cancer
- Age of the patient
- Other health problems of the patient
- Side effects of treatment options
Common breast cancer treatments include:
- Hormone treatment
- Targeted therapy
- Immunotherapy drugs
Doctors will discuss treatment options with you and disclose the side effects associated with each of them. Some treatment options, including surgery and radiation, treat the cancer in one specific part of the body. However, other options such as chemotherapy and hormone treatment affect the rest of the body as well.
Pintas & Mullins Can Help
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer caused by environmental contaminants, harmful drugs, or defective products, you may be eligible to receive compensation. Let the experienced lawyers at Pintas & Mullins help you every step of the way while you focus on recovering. Call (800) 614-2067 to learn more.