Beyond Pink: Important Facts About Breast Cancer & Its Detection
October is the breast cancer awareness month.
It is the month for countless fancy gala dinners, where we get to flash gorgeous dresses and pink ties, in attempts to increase awareness and help raise funds for research about breast cancer, its detection, and treatment. Media and TV shows are all featuring content related to the month of awareness, and you can spot the signature pink ribbon almost everywhere.
But my question is: are you women really following proper instructions on how to detect breast cancer on your own?
Sadly, 50 per cent of the answers will be negative.
So here are some facts for you.
Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women. Studies have shown that about 1 in 8 women will get Breast Cancer at some point. An early detection will save your life. That’s a fact.
My Job as an RN is to coach you again and again, and give you some answers.
What is a Mammogram ?
A mammogram is an X-ray exam of the breast that is used to detect and evaluate breast changes.
When should you start doing your mammograms?
- In your 20s and 30s, you should have a clinical breast exam by a health professional every 3 years.
- If you’re in your 40s, and have a mother or a sister or a grandmother who has breast cancer, you are considered to be at a high risk. You should do a mammogram and an MRI every year,
- If you’re not at a high risk, and have no symptoms of breast lump, you can start doing the screanning at the age of 50.
Because October is the breast cancer awareness month, many imaging centers offer mammograms at reduced rates, and most of the insurance companies now cover the costs.
What is the self breast examination that you can do it at home?
A breast self-examination is a check-up that you can do at home to look for changes or problems in your breasts. It is very easy, and here’s how to do it:
- Begin by lying on your back.
- Place your right hand behind your head.
- With the two middle fingers of your left hand, gently and firmly press down using small circular motions to examine the entire right breast.
- Repeat the same process on the left breast .
Next sit or stand up:
- Start feeling your armpit to check if there is any lump.
- Gently squeeze your nipple to check for any discharge.
Now in front of your mirror:
- Put your arms on your hips.
- Check for any breast changes like: the size of your breasts, any skin irritation, or any skin color change.
- Check if your nipples has changed position (has pushed inward), or any redness, soreness, rash or swelling.
Note that only the changes that last beyond one full cycle, or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way, need your doctor’s attention.
The best time to do the breast self-examination is
About 3 to 5 days after your period starts, because your breasts are not tender or lumpy at this time of your monthly cycle. If you are already in your menopause, you can do it on the same day every month.
I sincerely hope this article is helpful for you to start performing self-examination, and show up for regular clinical checkups.
For questions regarding any healthcare concern of yours, just drop me a comment here!