Breast Cancer screening: Everything Moms Need to Know
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness month and there’s no better time than now to get yourself checked. Dr. Ali Dameh, Consultant Surgeon (Harvard Medical School, USA) at Emirates Specialty Hospital- DHCC answers any queries pregnant or new moms may have
At what age should women begin screening for breast cancer?
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer that affects women worldwide and one in 10 women are at risk of developing breast cancer in their 40s. Women should start checking at the age of 40, or ten years prior – for those whose family members have been diagnosed. All females between 35-40 should consider screenings, and the best way of checking it at an earlier stage is through home check-ups, screenings or a mammogram. Mammograms can be done at all ages; however, they are not always required. Young females in their 20s or 30s
should first consider a clinical history examination and ultrasound.
Can mums get breast cancer while they are breast feeding?
For mums that are breast-feeding, there are special precautions that we use at Emirates Specialty Hospital, with led protection for the abdomen area. We always check the risks and benefits, during a pregnancy. If it doesn’t seem harmful, we proceed. Most pregnant women don’t need a mammogram as it’s very rare to have breast cancer during pregnancy, although, it can happen. The incidents are less than 0.5 per cent, and if symptoms do occur in the pregnancy, then the individual needs to see a consulting doctor to perform an examination and ultrasound scan before proceeding with a mammogram.
Does breastfeeding help reduce the risk of breast cancer?
Yes, breastfeeding is protective as it lowers the hormone and exposure of the breast glands to estrogen. This reduces the turnover and division of the cells, of the ducts of the breast, which preserves them and minimises the chances of them developing cancer when breastfeeding.
Any there any precautions pregnant or new mums should be taking?
Yes, they need to be careful when using hormonal therapy. In addition to this, they need to check their family history, reduce or stop smoking – as it has been associated with developing cancer cells – and lead a healthy lifestyle. Recent studies have shown that women with excess body fat are prone to develop breast cancer. Eating a nutritious diet can also help protect against breast cancer. Early detection is key, even before it develops into Stage 1 (called situ – where the abnormal cells are still within the cells and haven’t crossed the membrane and spread). The purpose of early detection and screening is to identify patients with lumps, that can potentially develop into cancer in the future. We eradicate them and there’s a 100 per cent chance of cure before it leads to advanced cancer. According to international guidelines, breast cancer screening before the age of 40 is a must. In this region especially, we are seeing younger patients with breast cancer, so we highly recommend seeking medical help.