In Kenya, 1 in 10 women is at risk of breast cancer. Along with cervical cancer, breast cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality among women.
Regular breast screening is one of the best ways to spot a cancer that is too small to feel or see. Early detection may increase chances of successful treatment. It is, therefore, important to be aware of your breasts at all times.
MP Shah Hospital runs a one stop clinic for breast issues. Here’s what you should expect during your breast screening appointment:
1. Breast Examination
At the breast clinic, the specialist breast surgeon examines your breast when you are sitting and/or when your are lying down. They ask you questions about your medical history, family history of breast problems and if there is medicines that you are taking and any previous breast surgery.
They will also check your lymph nodes under your arm and around your neck. If further investigation is required, the doctor discusses the next steps with you which would involve a mammogram and/or ultrasound scan.
A mammogram is a breast x-ray. At the M.P. Shah Hospital Breast Clinic, a female care giver conducts the mamography.
She asks you to undress to the waist, stand in front of the mammogram machine and place your breast onto the X-ray machine. Using 2 pieces of plastic that harmlessly squeezes your breast, she keeps your breast still while the X-rays are taken. Your breast will be taken off of the machine afterwards.
She will then tilt the X-ray machine to one side and repeat the process on the side of your breast to take an image of the part of your breast that extends into your armpit. Your other breast is X-rayed in the same way. This process only takes a few minutes.
Mammograms are generally not used in women under 40. Younger women’s breast tissue can be dense, which can make the x-ray image less clear and any problems harder to identify. However, for some women under 40, mammograms may still be needed to complete the assessment.