Early Detection for Your Protection

The Ballito MagazineDecember 19, 2023

As the years go by, and medicine and technology advances, we learn more about our bodies and how to take better care of them. Being a woman, there are some examinations that we ought to be doing on a routine basis, and a mammogram is one of them.


Mammography is a sensitive and private examination. Most Mammography centres being in hospital settings, it can be a daunting experience being surrounded by other patients. For Women 3D Mammography Centre offers state-of-the-art facilities and expert advice for women outside of a hospital setting, making the overall experience much more comfortable.


This centre was created to provide an out of hospital facility where patients can have their X-rays, routine Mammography examinations and Bone Densitometry tests done, as well as ultrasounds. The Centre is situated in the Ballito Junction Regional Mall on the top floor between entrance 1 and 2. We spoke to them about the importance of mammograms, risk factors and preventative solutions. Ladies, listen up!


So, what is a mammogram? In the simplest explanation, it is images of the breasts which show internal structures. Not only does it show the internal structures of the breast tissue, it can detect any abnormal cells as small as 1mm in diameter. This means that breast cancer can be detected on the 3D Mammography images before it is clinically felt during a physical examination, thus making it the most accurate tool to find breast cancer in early stages. Mammograms also show other types of tissue structures such as benign (non-cancerous) lesions, and can show any changes in the breasts.


According to statistics, women over 40 are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, but there have been increasing reports of breast cancer presenting in younger women in more recent years. There are several risk factors that may increase a woman’s risks of developing breast cancer, and this includes smoking, alcohol consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and having a family history of breast cancer.


Fluctuating levels of hormones in the body, especially ostrogen, also increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Among other factors, some surprising risk factors include having children after the age of 30, and the use of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy).


There are external factors that increase risks such as products that may contain carcinogenic agents (substances which can cause cancer) that may be present in preserved foods and other products with long shelf lives. Always check labels on food and even deodorants to see if it may contain harmful chemicals. Going for an annual Mammogram is essential for all women over the age of 40, as early detection saves lives. What can you do in the interim? For Women 3D has a comprehensive guide on their website on how to do self-checks and they invite women to make an appointment where they can further assist patients with all important information about breast health and self-care.


For Women 3D Mammography Centre encourages women to do self-breast examinations every month, as this will assist women to better understand what ‘normal’ feels like for them. They also advise that all young women should begin doing self-checks as soon as they have fully developed breasts. It has been proven that we as women are the first to detect any abnormality. Self-breast examinations assist women to become more familiar with their bodies and aid in early detection of any changes. So, it’s time to become better acquainted with your breasts!


The best time to do self-checks is three to five days after the start of a menstrual flow. This is when you will get the most accurate read on how your breasts are supposed to feel. Due to hormonal fluctuations throughout your cycle, your breasts may feel more tender or lumpy due to cycle hormonal changes. For some patients, it may be normal to experience pain or discomfort prior to their monthly cycle and this can vary from person to person. If the pain persists, it is highly recommended to consult with a physician. Any sudden changes noted to the breasts should not be taken lightly, as breast cancer does not always present the same in all patients.


Doing these regular self-checks and annual Mammogram scans all ensure that early detection is possible. Just like any cell in the body, a cancerous cell will start off small and grow larger over time. Early detection means finding abnormal cells in the breasts where it is still relatively small and the process to remove these cells is far less invasive than removing larger cancerous masses. At later stages, when the cancer cells have metastasised to other organs, treatments tend to be more aggressive, invasive, and the chances of survival may be slim.


It is not worth taking unnecessary risks with one’s health. “We see a lot of patients who have gone through a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments, and it is an extremely emotional and traumatic experience for those patients,” For Women advises.


For Women emphasises the importance of early detection, because it does make all the difference to the quality life that a patient will have after treatment. Let’s take the time to get to know our bodies and do those annual check-ups. Don’t wait until it is too late!