One of the missions of the Women’s Wellness Department is to reduce breast and cervical cancer mortality by removing barriers to screening services and to educate all women in our community about the importance of early detection. YWCA Alaska is dedicated to educating women about the importance of screening and informing women about the services available to them.
The Program provides breast and cervical cancer outreach, education, and referral to free screening services through the State of Alaska Breast & Cervical Health Check program. The Department also offers free transportation, interpreting, help filling out paperwork, appointment scheduling, and appointment follow up.
The Women’s Wellness Department works with the State of Alaska’s Breast & Cervical Health Check Program providing eligible women 21-64 the following health checkups at no cost:
- Pap test and pelvic exam
- Clinical Breast exam
- Mammogram (ages 40-64)
Call our Outreach Specialists at 644-9620 to see if you qualify for a FREE Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening, for more information or to make an appointment.
Know the Signs and symptoms of breast cancer
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel is an important part of keeping up with your breast health. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment. However, knowing what to look for does not take the place of having regular mammograms and other screening tests. Screening tests can help find breast cancer in its early stages, even before any symptoms appear.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can be tender, soft, or rounded. They can even be painful. For this reason, it is important to have any new breast mass or lump or breast change checked by a health care professional experienced in diagnosing breast diseases.
Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
Sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collar bone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt. Swollen lymph nodes should also be reported to your doctor.
Although any of these symptoms can be caused by things other than breast cancer, if you have them, they should be reported to your health care provider so that he or she can find the cause.
Because mammograms do not find every breast cancer, it is important for you to be aware of changes in your breasts and to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
Know the Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer
Women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have no symptoms. Symptoms often do not begin until a pre-cancer becomes a true invasive cancer and grows into nearby tissue. When this happens, the most common symptoms are:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after sex (vaginal intercourse), bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, and having longer or heavier (menstrual) periods than usual. Bleeding after douching, or after a pelvic exam is a common symptom of cervical cancer but not pre-cancer.
- An unusual discharge from the vagina − the discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
- Pain during sex (vaginal intercourse).
These signs and symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than cervical cancer. For example, an infection can cause pain or bleeding. Still, if you have any of these problems, you should see your health care professional right away − even if you have been getting regular Pap tests. If it is an infection, it will need to be treated. If it’s cancer, ignoring symptoms might allow it to progress to a more advanced stage and lower your chance for effective treatment.
Even better, don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Be screened regularly.
American Cancer Society – Cancer.org