Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I thought, yes, most women know to check their breasts monthly for changes in skin and tissue texture (see my post from last year on breast cancer prevention tips), and that exercise, eating a healthy well balanced diet, reducing caffeine, alcohol, not smoking, and maintaining stress levels can assist in lowering your risks of developing breast cancer. But what happens if you DO find a questionable lump? Well, that’s what this week’s tip is about, since it happened to me just recently.
I had noticed the lump back in July, thought it might be PMS related and dismissed it the first month. When the knotty tissue didn’t go away, I got scared, and immediately called my doctor. I have never had a serious health concern before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My hope is that this week’s tip will provide you with some helpful information in case you ever find yourself in the same situation.
Read all the tips after the jump!
What To Do If You Find a Lump in Your Breast:
1) APPOINTMENT: Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
– Most medical groups and HMOs have a very bureaucratic structure, so you will most likely have to go through a series of consultations and referrals before you actually see a specialist or have any tests run.
2) INSURANCE: All health insurances plans are different, so know what your insurance covers.
– Most corporate companies (as in workplace) and insurance companies have websites and 800 numbers that list what your insurance plan covers including: your deductibles, co-pays, out of network fees, etc. so you are not surprised by any hidden medical costs.
– If you DO NOT have health insurance, contact the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Medicade is available for low income women that qualify, and many hospitals have clinics that treat patients for little or no cost. The following link has more information for those seeking breast health medical services without insurance.
3) URGENCY: Ageism is alive and well in the medical industry, so be assertive with your needs.
– I’m told I have a “young” sounding voice, which I learned can work against you when you have a medical concern like a suspicious breast lump. One lab even rudely questioned my possession of a referral, when it had been the first thing I told them during our conversation, and in many cases, I had to stress the urgency of the situation, even though potentially having cancer is quite an obvious one.
4) COMMUNICATION: Ask A LOT of questions.
– Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what the procedures may entail, how long test results will take, what the test results mean, and what the next steps will be. E-mail vs. snail mail yields much faster results, so suggesting e-mail correspondence with your doctor or lab may speed up the process.
5) DIAGNOSIS: Mammogram is good. Sonogram is better. Biopsy is best.
– After having a mammogram (your breast is x-rayed between 2 plates and it isn’t painful, as some people describe), and sonogram (sound waves measure creating a computer generated image), it was assumed the 3 lumps are fibrous tissue with a different texture than the rest of my breast. With this prognosis, my options are to “watch” the lump for any changes, or to get a needle biopsy (needle injected into area to extract a sample of the cells later analyzed at a lab) to completely rule out disease, which I am scheduled for within the next couple weeks. If the lumps had been malignant, then treatment options would depend on the cancer’s stage, and commonly include: surgery to remove them, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. More treatment options can be found at Breastcancer.org.
Stay posted for more Breast Cancer Awareness tips and picks to come next week!
- M.I.S.S. Michelle’s Beauty Tips of the Week: I Must, I Must, I Must Get to Know My Bust. How to Become Breast Friends Forever.
- October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Nails Did: Breast Cancer Awareness
- M.I.S.S. BCAM: Hershey’s Pledge For Survival
- March Is National Endometriosis Awareness Month