Early detection is key to achieving the best possible outcome from breast cancer. A mammogram screening is a simple, non-invasive exam that can help detect potential breast cancer at the earliest possible time.
But did you know that dedicating the whole month of October to promote Breast Cancer Awareness started in the US in 1985, mainly to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer?
Today, with more and more people affected by this disease, we believe that it’s important to continue the campaign to increase awareness. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of death in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries.
YOU NEED TO GET SCREENED!
In addition to being breast aware and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended that women begin regular breast cancer screenings from the age of 45. Breast cancer screening is for women without any signs and symptoms.
This year, we are giving away stickers as part of our awareness campaign!
A mammogram (a low dose x-ray exam of your breasts) is performed to find very early changes in the breast. This service is currently offered by PHCC and is available at three Primary Health Care Centers here in Qatar – Leabaib, Rawdat Al Khail and Al Wakra Health Centers, and at the Mobile Screening Unit.
The clinics also provide a wide range of services for affected and unaffected people; those with high risk of developing inherited forms of breast and other types of cancer. Based on an evaluation process done by a certified genetic counselor who is in charge of assessing lifetime risk, incidence and counseling about genetic mutation risk (according to international scoring tools), the patient will be offered risk reducing strategies that include surveillance of breast and other types of cancer prophylactic surgeries, or drugs that can reduce risk of cancers.
There is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach that allows a team of specialists, including genetic counselors, psychologists, surgeons, and medical oncologist to work together to develop the best plan of care for each and every patient.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER SCREENING?
Breast cancer screening is performed with a simple, non-invasive exam called a mammogram. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. Mammograms are routinely administered to detect breast cancer in women who have no apparent symptoms.
WHO SHOULD GET SCREENED?
No matter what your age, you should call the PHCC screening centre if you are considered at risk due to family history, a prior malignant or pre-malignant occurrence of breast disease, or a genetic predisposition. If you are a woman aged 45 to 69 years old with no symptoms, then you have to get screened.
If you have any one or more of the symptoms below, contact the PHCC at [email protected] or their call centre at 800 1112 and book your appointment.
- A persistent lump in the breast that may feel different from other breast tissue and is somewhat tender.
- One or more lumps in the armpit.
- Changes in the shape or size of the breasts, such as swelling or shrinking, particularly if only one breast changes.
- Breast skin changes, such as dimpling, puckering, redness, increased warmth, visible veins, or itching.
- Nipple changes, such as sudden inversion, discharge, or scaling.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, you should get screened every three years.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A MAMMOGRAM?
At PHCC, highly-trained, experienced professionals use advanced equipment to complete your screening. Your comfort and privacy are paramount, as is your clear understanding of all aspects of the exam.
- The technologist will review your medical history and any symptoms you’ve been experiencing related to your breasts.
- In a private dressing room, you will prepare for the examination by putting on a gown.
- In the exam room, the female technologist will position you standing at the mammography machine and place your breast over the receptor.
- The machine applies moderate compression to your breast for a few seconds to obtain the clearest image. Typically, two views are taken of each breast.
- The female technologist will assess the image quality (not your health) on a computer screen in the room.
It’s that simple. You can leave immediately and resume normal activities. The radiologist will send results to your physician, who will guide you on the appropriate next steps.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR MY MAMMOGRAM?
- Do not wear perfume, powder, deodorant, or lotions that contain glitter on the breast or underarm area.
- Arrive early to your appointment. If you need to reschedule or cancel, call 24 hours in advance.
- Tell them if you are or may be pregnant or are breastfeeding.
- If you have previous mammograms and reports, bring them to your appointment.
- Let them know if you have breast implants.
- Let them know if you have had a breast biopsy.
- To minimise discomfort, schedule your exam two to three days after the end of your period when your breasts will be less tender.
CLEARER AND FASTER
PHCC uses digital mammography, which delivers substantial advantages to you and your doctor.
- Higher quality images than traditional film.
- Reduced number of retakes and repeat procedures.
- Less time spent in the exam room.
- Faster communication of results to your healthcare provider.
- More refined detection tools, such as computer-aided diagnosis (CAD).
- Greater accuracy, with image enhancement algorithms that make abnormalities in dense tissue more clear.
These symptoms may indicate any one of a number of health conditions besides cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider to get an accurate – and early – diagnosis. Together with your doctor, you can make the best decisions about your health when you have clear facts.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Qatar