Breast Self-Exam: Monthly breast self-examinations (BSE) have not been shown to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. However, a monthly breast self-exam is important for a woman to become familiar with her breasts and any changes that may occur over time that may signal a breast disease or condition. Symptoms and signs to look for when performing a breast self-exam are nipple discharge; red, swollen, scaly, or itchy nipples or breast tissue; sudden breast pain that does not go away; changes in breast size or shape; dimpling of the breast or nipple; or a lump or lumps in the breast. Notify your health-care professional if you detect any unusual changes in your breasts.
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BreastThe breast generally refers to the chest, however, more specifically, to the mammary gland. The mammary gland is a milk producing gland comprised largely of fat. Within the mammary gland is a complex network of branching ducts. The ducts exit from sac-like structures called lobules, which can produce milk in females. The darkened area around the nipple is called the areola. Common medical concerns in regard to the breast include breast lumps, breast cysts, breast cancer, and breast infections.
Breast CancerBreast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in women. Symptoms and signs of breast cancer include breast lumps, nipple discharge or inversion, or changes in the breast's skin. Treatment typically involves some type of surgery and depends upon the staging of the cancer, the tumor type, and the person's health.
Breast InfectionBreast infection, or mastitis, is a bacterial infection of the breast and nipple caused by bacteria in a nursing infant's mouth. Mastitis causes redness, swelling, and pain in the breast. Treatments include oral antibiotics in most cases.
Breast Lumps and PainBreast changes are common. From the time a girl begins to develop breasts and begins menstruating and throughout life, women may experience various kinds of breast pain and other breast changes. Causes of pain and lumps can include fibrocystic breast disease, premenstrual syndrome, cyclic mastalgia, normal hormonal fluctuations, onset of puberty or menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, estrogen therapy, chest wall tenderness, injury to the breast, shingles, use of certain medications, an infection in the breast, and breast cancer. If you have a lump in your breast, your doctor will check for various possible causes.
Breast ReconstructionBreast reconstruction is surgery to restore the breast of women after mastectomy (removal of the breast). Breast reconstruction may involve implants or using the woman's own tissue. A surgeon may perform breast augmentation or require breast reduction to achieve symmetry. Complications include infection and shape irregularities.
Common Health TestsCommon health tests may be performed in your doctor's office or even in the pharmacy. Regular health checks and screening for certain diseases and conditions have become routine for most. Common health tests include a mammogram, cholesterol tests, and colonoscopy.
MammogramMammogram is a special X-ray of the breast used to detect breast cancer early. There are few risks associated with mammography. Mammograms may show suspicious areas of the breast, white spots, and microcalcifications. Risk factors for breast cancer include age, genetic predisposition, family history, medical history, fibrocystic breast disease, therapeutic radiation exposure, menstrual cycle, previous pregnancies, hormone therapy for menopause, oral contraceptive use, breastfeeding, alcohol, smoking, obesity, and lack of physical activity.
MenopauseMenopause is a transition between two phases of a woman's life. Menopause is not a disease or an illness. Menopause occurs when a woman permanently stops menstruating (having periods). Common symptoms of menopause include hot flashes, urinary incontinence, vaginal changes, breast changes, thinning of the skin, bone loss, rise in LDL cholesterol levels, increased risk for heart disease, and weight gain. There is no "cure" for menopause. There are medication treatments and lifestyle changes that can ease the symptoms of menopause.
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