This October women are asked to be more mindful of the health status of their breasts. Self- examination and doctor follow-up are recommended if you notice anything unusual. Breast tissue can be affected by hormone changes including a regular menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. Women often experience breast discomfort due to changes in their hormone levels. Breast lumps, cysts, mastitis and, pain can occur.
Here are the main things to look for when doing a self- examination:
- A fibrous lump (Fibroadenomas)
These are common and are not painful. They feel smooth and firm and are flexible in the breast tissue. Most fibroadenomas are small but should be checked out by your doctor.
- Breast cysts
This is a fluid filled sac in the breast tissue. They can vary in size with the menstrual cycle and may disappear spontaneously. They can be painful and can come and go. Check with your doctor if they persist.
- Benign fibrocystic disease
This is a combination of cysts and thickened breast tissue, it’s called a benign fibrocystic disease. The lump may change within the menstrual cycle in women who are sensitive to hormonal changes. This combination increases with age and is a common cause of non-cancerous lumps.
- Nipple discharge
Nipple discharge can be caused by pregnancy, breastfeeding or a duct papilloma (a harmless growth found in the duct of the breast abscess). See your doctor if a discharge occurs when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding or discharge is watery or blood stained.
- Breast Inflammation (mastitis)
This condition includes redness, lumpiness and pain in the affected breast tissue. Most commonly this is caused by an infection An antibiotic might be prescribed for the bacterial infection and/or an anti-inflammatory medication to relieve the pain. If left untreated an abscess forms and a surgical procedure may be needed to drain it.
- Painful breasts (Mastalgia)
This is usually linked to the menstrual cycle, with breasts becoming tender or painful just before a period. This is a normal occurrence caused by fluid retention due to hormonal activity. You can ask your doctor to suggest ways to manage the discomfort.
Contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy can also cause breast discomfort. Often, a change in the prescribed type of hormone is necessary.
I recommend thermography as a regular screening tool. It’s less invasive than a mammography and is designed to give you the opportunity to make lifestyle adjustments to prevent breast disease. Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging, or Thermography, is a screening device that can detect the early stages of disease of without having to use an X-Ray, sonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other medical imaging methods. It is a non-evasive process that uses color imaging on a computer of your body’s thermal patterns. It detects hormonal imbalances that cause an increase in temperature visible to the thermographic scan.
Thermography is a safe, pain-free, and radiation-free way to detect changes in breast tissue that could become problematic if left untreated.