Breast Cancer Awareness and the Importance of Breast Screenings

By: Guest Author

Published: October 14, 2021

Written By Sarah Daren- Guest Contributor

For many of us, unless we have been personally affected by breast cancer (either ourselves or the experience of a friend or loved one), we may not have ever considered getting a breast cancer screening. However, there are some significant reasons this should be a regular part of every adult woman’s health regimen.

Importance of Breast Cancer Screening

To understand the importance of regular breast cancer screenings, it’s important to know how prevalent breast cancer cases can be. According to The American Cancer Society (ACS), almost 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, and almost 3% of female fatalities yearly are caused by breast cancer. In fact, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for females in the USA (ACS). Breast cancer is a serious threat and needs to be treated as such.

The second reason regular breast cancer screenings are so important is the difference early discovery can make in a case’s outcome. The ACS shares survival rates for patients who experienced breast cancer at different stages of progression. According to this data, those whose cancer did not progress past its initial or “localized” stage are 99% likely to live 5 years or more past cancer detection. For those whose cancer had progressed to a “regional” stage (the cancer had spread past the breasts into surrounding areas of the body), that percentage drops to 86%. 5-year survival rates for cases where the cancer had spread as far as “distant” areas and organs of the body are much lower – currently reported at 28%. Getting regular screenings significantly increases your chances of catching breast cancer occurrences in an early stage and improving your experience dramatically, lessening necessary treatment measures and increasing your chances of survival.

Understanding Screenings: Your Options

Breast examinations and screenings can be accomplished in several ways. These range from self examinations, clinical examinations by a doctor, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology, or getting a Mammogram (X-ray). The National Cancer Institute describes these and other forms of breast cancer screenings in more detail here.

The most common and accessible methods for breast cancer screenings are self examinations and clinical examinations by your doctor. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe a list of symptoms that could indicate the presence of breast cancer that you can regularly check for yourself:

–      “New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit).

–      Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.

–      Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.

–      Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.

–      Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

–      Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

–      Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.

–      Pain in any area of the breast.”

Though having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer, they serve as warning signs of its possible existence. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately to discuss next steps.

Regular self examinations are a good way of detecting the presence of breast cancer, but it is highly recommended that you also schedule regular exams with your doctor or health care provider to catch any subtle signs of breast cancer development.

MRI vs. Mammograms

MRI images and Mammograms are technologies used by doctors to create scans of the breast’s interior as an additional form of screening. Both methods have strengths and weaknesses, as explored in this article by Advent Health University. MRI images do not use radioactive material and thus can sometimes prove a better option for routine screenings. However, they are more costly than mammograms. Additionally, mammograms can detect different nuances and may be recommended as a secondary screening for unclear MRI results or when something abnormal is detected during a routine screening.

Your doctor or health care professional can help you determine what type of screening procedure would work best for you given your age, risk level, and specific health history.

This is not a “Me” Issue: Advocacy is Communal

As women, it’s important to not only get screened regularly yourself but to help your friends and loved ones understand breast cancer awareness and detection as well. We all contribute to health advocacy, and we each can play an important role in encouraging those around us to detect any instances of breast cancer in early stages and minimize its impact.

In Conclusion: Action Steps

Here are some good action steps you can take to be proactive in protecting yourself and others from breast cancer:

  • Know the early signs of breast cancer and check yourself regularly. The symptoms listed above are a good list to get you started, but it is wise to talk to your doctor or health care provider about anything abnormal that develops in or around your breasts whether or not it is on that list.
  • Get a breast cancer screening regularly. This is usually recommended annually as mentioned above, but talk to your doctor about what they recommend for you.
  • Be vocal. Encourage your friends, family members, female children, and anyone in your circles to be aware of breast cancer’s prevalence and get screened regularly.

By helping ourselves and those around us remain vigilant and proactive, we can catch breast cancer as quickly as possible and make sure treatment has the best chance of being effective.

This article has been contributed by Sarah Daren.

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.


The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.