By Sarah Naron
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Joe Tumalad, NP of Grapeland Urgent Care, recommends that women perform self-exams on their breasts at least once per month in order to ensure early detection in the event they develop breast cancer.

“What you’re looking for is any lumps and bumps,” Tumalad explained. “Discoloration is another sign. Nipple discharge – anything unusual, really.”

Other hallmark signs of breast cancer include pain and lymph node enlargement, Tumalad said.

Women who exhibit any of the aforementioned signs are typically given a mammogram or ultrasound upon consulting their healthcare provider, as well as tests to determine whether any tumors present are malignant or benign.

“They do a needle aspiration – a biopsy – and send it to the lab and see if it is malignant,” he explained. “That’s how we can find out between benign and malignant. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell by just looking at it and feeling on it. That’s the reason we do those kind of tests when something is not normal in your breast.”

The symptoms presented by breast cancer can be mimicked by events such as pregnancy and hormonal changes during a woman’s menstrual cycle.

“Your breasts will be sore when you’re on your cycle or whenever you’re pregnant,” Tumalad pointed out. “A lot of things have changed because of the estrogen and progesterone levels. So, you want to get checked out just to be sure there’s nothing that needed more attention.”

In addition to performing regular self-checks, Tumalad encouraged women to become familiar with the anatomy of their own breasts.

“Normally, one breast is bigger than the other – that’s normal anatomy,” he said. “Just make sure you’re familiar with it so that you know what’s normal and not normal so that you know when to call the doctor.”

Statistics indicate that approximately one out of every eight women in America will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her life. The death rates for U.S. women with breast cancer are higher than any other form of cancer, surpassed only by lung cancer. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women.

As of January 2018, more than 3.1 million women in the United States had a history of breast cancer, including both those currently receiving treatment and those whose treatment had been completed. Having a mother, sister, or daughter receive a breast cancer diagnosis is reported to nearly double the risk of a woman receiving a diagnosis of her own.

For more information, visit www.breastcancer.org or contact your healthcare provider.