Firstly: Start having self-breast exams at the age of 20. After the monthly menstrual cycle, adult women of all ages should perform the self-breast exams.
Once a month:
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast.
Check the armpit area.
Look out for unusual things such as:
Rashes and crusting of the nipple or surrounding area
Other unusual changes
The Vietnamese American Cancer Society has a DVD that instructs clearly on how to do a breast self-exam by modeling in Vietnamese. You can contact the association for free DVDs.
Secondly: Have a CBE by a health professional.
Finally: Have a mammogram.
If you are over 40, you should get a mammogram each year, even if there are no abnormalities at your breast exam. If your family has a history of breast cancer, especially your mother or sister, or you have genetic factors such as BRCA gene mutations, you may need to be screened for breast cancer before the age of 40.
Women with BRCA gene mutations are more likely to develop breast and ovarian cancer. They may need to be screened for breast cancer at a younger age and may need to use MRT (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to effectively detect breast cancer. They may also consider the surgical removal of both breasts and ovaries to prevent these two types of cancer more effectively. They need to think and discuss carefully with their physician and genetic specialist before making these decisions.
If these scans find abnormal changes in the breast, the doctor will recommend the patients to perform other tests such as ultrasound, MRI, or a biopsy… to identify the disease.
The options listed above are advice guided to all women of every race. As mentioned earlier, Vietnamese women have the risk of contracting breast cancer at a younger age. However, there are no present studies that dictate when Vietnamese women should start having mammograms.
Getting a mammogram screening before the age of 40 may not be effective because most women in this age have a lot of watery cysts in the breast cells. When they are x-rayed, the watery cysts will cover the cancer cells. As the results, young women need to look after their breast by performing breast self-exams and ask your doctor whenever you have concerns.