the diagnostic tools available to help fight breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside each year by the National Breast Cancer Foundation to promote greater understanding, provide support to those in need and raise funds to help fight a disease that is estimated to claim the lives of more than 40,000 women every year.

In order to gain more of an insight into just how insidious and pervasive breast cancer is here in the U.S., consider some of the following statistics:

  • Breast cancer is now recognized as the second leading cause of death for women.
  • Breast cancer is now the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women.
  • Breast cancer will be diagnosed during the lifetimes of one out of every eight women.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the next few posts will take a closer look at some of the tools available to medical professionals to help diagnose breast cancer, a disease for which time is truly of the essence.

Mammograms

In general, a mammogram is an x-ray that uses a small amount of iodizing radiation to create an image of the breast tissue that can be examined by a medical professional for any potential problems or warning signs.

The primary benefit of mammograms — which are typically recommended for women 40 and over every 1-2 years, or women younger than 40 with certain risk factors present — is that they can frequently show breast lumps before they are capable of being detected by physical exam or identify the presence of potentially problematic clusters of calcium called microcalcifications.

It’s important to understand that there are two types of mammograms: screening and diagnostic. The former are used to uncover breast cancer in women who otherwise exhibit no outward symptoms, while the latter are used when a screening mammogram shows potential issues or some other signs inform a medical professional that further examination is merited.

In our next post, we’ll continue to explore this important topic by looking at more of the diagnostic tools available to medical professionals in identifying breast cancer. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that you or a loved one has been victimized by a delayed cancer diagnosis.

Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation, “Mammogram,” Accessed Oct. 6, 2014

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