Mission Possible: Breast Cancer Detection | Carson Tahoe Health

Don’t let breast cancer be a secret agent. Early detection can save lives.

Breast cancer is the number two cancer threat for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to uncover breast cancer facts by learning some of the basics.

Follow the Clues

Get familiar with your breasts and do a monthly self-check to evaluate for the clues of breast cancer. Here’s what to look for:

  • Breast or nipple pain
  • Dimpling of the breast skin
  • New lump in the breast or armpit
  • Nipple discharge
  • Pulling in of the nipple
  • Redness or flaky skin on breast or nipple
  • Thickening or swelling of the breast

Detection Protocol

The sooner breast cancer is uncovered, the easier it is to treat, but some women don’t experience any signs or symptoms. Because of this, the best way to detect breast cancer is with an annual mammogram, starting at age 45, with women ages 40 to 45 having a choice about whether to get a mammogram.

There are two types of mammograms offered at Carson Tahoe’s Breast Center:

  • A traditional mammogram takes x-rays of each breast from two angles.
  • 3D mammograms take several x-rays from several angles, providing a clearer picture of the breasts. 3D mammograms are best for women with dense breasts.

Take Evasive Action

While you can’t control some breast cancer risks, such as your age or having certain gene mutations, there are lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk:

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich dairy and low in red or processed meats
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese

How to Decode Breast Density

Breast density is the difference between how much breast and connective tissue there is versus fat. Breast density isn’t something that can be measured by feel, only by how breasts look on a mammogram.

Breast density is measured by the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) scale, created by the American College of Radiology. The levels of density are rated on a letter scale, which can make it seem like they’re written in code.

Here’s your cipher to the BI-RADS scale:

A: The breast is almost entirely fatty tissue.

B: There are scattered areas of breast and connective tissue, but most of the breast is fatty tissue.

C: Heterogeneously dense, meaning most of the breast is dense breast tissue but some areas of fatty tissue exist.

D: The breast is almost entirely connective, and breast tissues with very little fatty tissue. This is extremely dense.

Schedule your annual mammogram online through the MyChart patient portal at www.CarsonTahoe.com/MyChart.