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Five Facts to Know

Start Early

Beginning at age 18, annual visits to your general practitioner or women’s health care provider should include a breast exam. “Monthly breast self-exams, at the end of your menstrual period when breasts are least tender, also are important – if you notice changes to the nipple or any lump or swelling, alert your provider right away,” says Dr. Roberta Lilly, medical director of the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center at UM Shore Regional Health.

Learn about early detection and how to conduct a breast self-exam.

No One is Risk Free

No family history of breast cancer? That doesn’t mean you are free from risk. “In fact, in more than 85 percent of breast cancer cases, there is no family history,” says Dr. Lilly. There are other risk factors to keep in mind, including obesity and/or a sedentary lifestyle. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT does not cause cancer, but may fuel the growth of cancer cells). No pregnancies or only late-in-life pregnancy may also increase risk.

Annual Mammograms Starting at 40

“Mammograms for early detection of breast cancer have saved millions of lives and the technology continues to advance,” says Dr. Lilly. “The 3-D with tomosynthesis mammograms – now available at the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown and UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton – are now the gold standard for early diagnosis.”

You might be told you have “dense” breasts, which means a high proportion of glandular tissue containing milk-producing cells and fibrous tissue. If so, you may be sent for an MRI scan or ultrasound for follow-up testing. While density may increase cancer risk, your age and weight are more significant risk factors.

Do Not Ignore a Breast Rash

Certain changes in your breast, such as redness, swelling, pain, itching and severely enlarged pores may be due to dermatitis, which is a skin infection, or mastitis, which is breast tissue infection. “These infections can be treated with antibiotics and symptoms should start to lessen within five days,” says Dr. Lilly. “If the symptoms continue, your provider should take a skin sample to be tested for breast cancer. In any case, anyone experiencing rash-like symptoms should seek prompt medical attention.”

Find a Breast Health Care Provider

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Roberta Lilly or Brittany Krautheim, CRNP, please call 410-820-9400. Patients are seen at the Clark Comprehensive Breast Center or the Eleanor Ethel Leh Women’s Center in UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

Learn more about breast health and breast cancer.

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