19 October 2015

Breast Health: Dense Breasts and the Importance of Exams

I remember being a teenager and watching my grandmother bravely fight through breast cancer.  She had to have a single mastectomy and before this I had never heard much or or even learned much about cancer.  It scared me a great deal but it also made me conscious of my own breast health moving forward. Then came this past year.  I was experiencing breast pain that would not go away.  After two trips to the doctor and no resolve I asked to be referred to a specialist.  At my specialist appointment I was told there was a suspected cyst and that I needed to go for a mammogram to be sure.  Now of course I was nervous!  You hear the stories of pain and flattening that make you squirm.  Let me tell you ladies though it was so easy!  For anyone that is putting off their mammogram because they are worried it will be painful it was not.  Each scan lasted only seconds and I maybe experienced mild discomfort at the most, if any.  I was nervous for nothing!  It turns out there was no cyst but I was told I have very dense breasts and this was the cause of my pain.

What are dense breasts?  Dense breasts contain less fatty tissue and more dense tissue.  When a mammogram is done on dense breasts this can make it harder for breast cancer to be detected due to the dense tissue appearing white on the mammogram, making it harder to see through.  The Mayo Clinic reports that about half of all women have dense breasts (Mayo Clinic).  Many states have laws now that require them to inform patients after a mammogram if they have dense breast tissue so that they can discuss further with their doctor the results and how to proceed with scans in the future.  If you learn you have dense breasts you can use that knowledge to be more aware with your self checks and with your mammograms.  More advanced scanning may be necessary for those with dense breasts such as by MRI or 3D imaging.  

The American Cancer Society recommends that women without breast symptoms start getting yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and women in their 20s and 30s should get clinical breast exams yearly (American Cancer Society).  Remember to do your monthly self exams and to remind your friends and family to stay on top of theirs as well!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Aflac has partnered with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) once again for their second annual "This Duck Wears Pink" campaign.  Aflac is helping to support funding of research aimed at finding a cure for cancer by selling fun pink themed merchandise such as hats, plush ducks, and breast cancer ribbon pins.  You can shop to support the cause here.

For those going through treatment for breast cancer getting well should be the main priority.  Even those who have employee sponsored health insurance can still end up paying thousands out of pocket when it comes to cancer treatment.  A cancer insurance policy can help when it comes to costly treatment programs.  Aflac has recently introduced their One Day PaySM initiative which allows Aflac the ability to process, approve, and pay eligible claims within one day! This means that you can get the cash you need faster than you could before.  This cash can be used for medical bills, help with your mortgage payments, daycare expenses, groceries, and other daily expenses.  To learn more about Aflac's insurance policies, please visit their website here.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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