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There is not a more important time for breast cancer detection than when you hit your 50s. To finish up my series on "Healthy Breasts at Any Age" let's talk about what to expect in your 50s and beyond.
Your 50s and beyond are crucial for screening breast cancer. These are the years that you really want to have any change you notice investigated. If you have nipple discharge or any other odd occurrence, have it checked by your doctor. By this time, you should be going for your annual breast exams and mammograms. Some women will need to have an ultrasound with mammogram if they have dense breasts or are high risk.
When you get into your 40s and 50s and go through menopause, some women will have breast shrinkage. Believe it or not, other women will see an increase in their cup size at this stage of their lives. This is all due to your changing hormones and it is nothing to be alarmed about. Some women will also get cysts in their breasts that they never had before, and that's just your tissues changing from being functional for lactation to being non-functional as you go through menopause.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
In most situations, I would say that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a big no-no. There have been convincing studies that have shown that HRT increases the chances of developing breast cancer because it extends the time that the breast is exposed to estrogen, which stimulates the growth of cancers.
Some women still need HRT either because they may have gone into menopause early, are at high risk of severe osteoporosis or cardiac disease, or have severe menopausal symptoms like depression, mood swings, irritability and insomnia. If you have any of these issues, then you should talk to your gynecologist and/or a breast specialist to see if it is worth the risk of treating them with HRT.
Dr. Cynara Coomer is an assistant professor of surgery specializing in breast health and breast cancer surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. She is a FOX News Health contributor providing medical expertise on a variety of topics in cancer research with a focus on women's health, breast diseases and tips for healthy breasts at any age. If you have a question email her at DrCoomer@foxnews.com