Frequent questions about breast health to ask a gynecologist
A woman goes through a lot of body changes in their lifetime. And it is natural for women’s bodies to change with age and there are many alterations that require expert analysis. There is nothing to be shy of to consult with an obstetrician and gynecologist for their changes because it does require an expert analysis. Among many changes, one change is breast health, and it is an important aspect of women’s overall health and well-being. As such, it is not uncommon for women to have questions about their breast health and seek answers from a gynaecologist. Some of the common questions are here as per Dr Manju Gupta (Senior Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida)
1. What are some common breast problems that women may experience?
Breast problems can range from mild discomfort to more serious conditions. Some common breast problems that women may experience include breast pain, nipple discharge, breast lumps, and breast infections. It is important for women to pay attention to any changes in their breasts and report them to their gynaecologist.
2. What are the factors that increase the risk of breast cancer?
Despite the fact that the precise cause of breast cancer is yet unknown, there are numerous risk factors. Aging, alcohol usage, late pregnancy, early menstruation, late menopause, family history, oral contraceptive use, and radiation therapy history are a few of these factors.
3. What is the correct way to do the breast self-examination?
It’s important to regularly observe if there are any changes that might have taken place, particularly in terms of breast size, shape, skin changes, or nipple discharge. In addition to these more evident changes, you should be aware of any unusual lumps or bumps.
● Put your hands on your hips and take a good look while standing in front of the mirror.
● Spread out your arms in front of you. Keep an eye out for nipple form and colour.
● Check your nipples to see if there is any fluid or discharge coming from them.
● Check for lumps.
● Put one hand over the top of the breast you’re inspecting while lying on your back.
● Apply firm pressure to your breast tissue as you circle it with the other hand.
● See the breast as a plus sign (+), and deliberately touch each quarter.
● When you’re done massaging your breasts, continue to your underarms and repeat the process there.
● Get up (or stand) and inspect your breasts from this new position.
● Occasionally, inspecting your breasts in the shower can help you see anomalies because the skin will be damp and slippery.
4. How frequently should one undertake a breast self-examination (BSE)?
The monthly breast self-exam (BSE) is advised by doctors. When inspecting the breasts, look for dimpling, a palpable lump, puckering, secretion from the nipples, inversion of the nipple, scaliness of the nipple/areola area, and changes in the breast skin. It is advisable to consult a specialist if any of these changes in the breasts are observed.
5. What can women do to maintain healthy breasts?
Women can take several steps to maintain healthy breasts. First, they should perform regular self-breast exams and report any changes to their gynaecologist. Women should also get regular mammograms and breast exams as recommended by their healthcare provider. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy diet, can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
6. When should women start getting mammograms, and how often should they get them?
The American Cancer Society recommends that women start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue to get them annually. However, some healthcare providers may recommend that women start getting mammograms at a younger age if they have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. It is important for women to discuss their individual risk factors with their healthcare provider to determine when and how often they should get mammograms.
7. Is it possible to reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Although there are no proven methods to help prevent breast cancer, some lifestyle changes can reduce the risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, leading an active lifestyle, consuming less alcohol, and getting pregnant at the right time are measures that may lower the risk.
8. Are all breast pains indicative of breast cancer?
Breast soreness or pain, also known as mastalgia/mastodynia, is frequently linked to both the pre and post menstrual phases of the menstrual cycle. This is frequently suspected by many women to be a breast cancer symptom. Nonetheless, cancer rarely causes pain. It is advised to seek advice if the pain persists for longer than 3 weeks.
9. Do all benign cysts develop into cancer?
Rarely can cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs in the breast, cause cancer. But you should inform your doctor right away if you see a breast lump so they can examine it. Some women frequently develop cyclical lumps, ahead of the menstrual cycle. These cysts usually later vanish. It is better to have them monitored even though they are safe.
10. Is breastfeeding beneficial for breast health?
Yes, breastfeeding is beneficial for breast health. Breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of breast cancer and can also help prevent breast infections. Additionally, breastfeeding can help strengthen the bond between mother and baby.
11. What is breast density, and why is it important?
Breast density refers to the amount of glandular tissue in the breast compared to the amount of fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts have a higher risk of developing breast cancer. It is important for women to discuss their breast density with their healthcare provider, as they may need additional screening tests, such as breast MRI, to detect breast cancer early.