BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast cancer is described as a disease predominantly in women where the cells in the breast grow out of control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Radiologic technologist Kelly Vessel works at an imaging facility in Baton Rouge. She provided a few early signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look for.

“When checking for early signs of breast cancer, look for new lumps or masses, swelling of the breasts, nipple or breast pain, swollen lymph nodes under the arm and near the collar bone, nipple discharge, other than milk, and skin dimpling,” said Vessel.

What to know before your mammogram

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends women ages 40 and older to consider getting a breast cancer screening, or a mammogram. A mammogram is a type of X-ray used to check for early signs of breast cancer.

When preparing for a mammogram, bring previous records if possible, schedule your appointment when your breasts aren’t likely to be tender, on the day of the exam, technologists ask that you don’t wear perfume, lotion, deodorant, powders or creams as it can affect the test.

How to do a self-exam

Vessel suggests women perform self-examinations along with scheduling appointments.

“The best time to perform a self-examination is between four and seven days after the first day of menstrual period,” said Vessel. “Check your breasts for changes in texture and shape and remember to examine your underarm area for thickening or lumps.”

Vessel shared some tips for women who are self-examining.

  • Check the same time each month
  • Look at your breasts in the mirror with your hands at your side, then above your head
  • Use the pads of your fingers to check for any unusual changes around the breasts and armpits
  • Look and feel for lumps, hardened knots or other changes
  • Check for swelling, redness or skin dimpling

According to ACS, there are risk factors that can play a part in being diagnosed with breast cancer such as drinking alcohol, not being physically active, not having children, not breastfeeding, taking birth control and menopausal hormone therapy.

Breast cancer can also be considered hereditary.

Treatments available

The CDC reports multiple treatment options, depending on the type of breast cancer and how far it has spread. Surgery cuts the cancer out of the body. Chemotherapy shrinks the cancer cells. Hormonal therapy blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones needed to grow,. Biological therapy works with your body’s immune system to fight the cancer cells, and radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill the cancer cells.