My friend, the one who had the lump, then had it removed, then waited three days to learn about the lump, now knows something about her lump: It’s not cancer. Eighty to 85% of breast lumps aren’t, especially in women younger than 40, so my friend’s outcome is not too surprising. What is surprising is when a young woman does develop breast cancer, since her chances of turning up a malignant tumor are only 15 to 20%. Yet young women, like me, do get this disease and so it’s wise to pay attention to anything suspicious found in breast tissue. My friend paid attention to her something-suspicious, which is no longer suspicious, which makes me so relieved.
If you are a young woman, like me and like my friend, you must examine your breast tissue every month. And a doctor must examine your breasts regularly. And when you turn 40, you must get a mammogram every year (ask about ultrasound and MRI if you have any family history). And when you feel something not so right, you must pursue it. It might be nothing. But it could be something. And the earlier you hop on it, the better you’ll survive.
For more on clinical breast exams—the exam your doctor ought to be doing—click here.
For more on mammograms—yes, they are uncomfortable but they hurt a whole lot less than breast cancer does—click here.