Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Montana women. Although it often starts too small to be felt, breast cancer can grow and spread throughout the body, causing serious health problems and, sometimes, death.
Some women may not have any signs or symptoms of breast cancer at all. Some warning signs, though, may include:
A new lump in the breast or underarm
Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
Redness, flaking, irritation or dimpling of breast skin
Pain in the breast or nipple area
Any change in breast size or shape
Screening tests for breast cancer include:
Clinical breast exams
MRI may be used for women with a strong family history or other factors that make them more susceptible to breast cancer.
Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent HPV infection are available. When cancer starts in the cervix, the narrow end of the uterus that connects to the vagina, it is called cervical cancer. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.
Some women may have no signs or symptoms of cervical cancer, especially early on. Later, cervical cancer may cause abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. This is why screening tests are so important.
Pap tests are the most commonly used screening test for cervical cancer. Average risk women aged 21 to 65 are recommended to have a Pap smear every 3 years. Women aged 30 to 65 may extend Pap smear testing to every 5 years if HPV testing is done in combination with cytology. In Montana, 77% of women reported meeting this recommendation during 2018.