Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. Forty percent of these cancerous lumps are self-discovered. However when detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast and ovarian cancer can be greater than 92%. These statistics narrate the necessity for women to preform monthly breast exams and check for abnormalities.
Provided is a list of ways to educate and protect yourself and your loved ones from breast cancer.
1). Set a reminder in your phone- use the “Check Yourself” app that will notify you monthly. The app also stresses the importance of checking yourself at the same time each month- the most optimal time being right after the end of a menstrual cycle. Alternatively, set a monthly reminder by texting PINK to 59227
2). Know the symptoms of Breast Cancer
“Swelling, soreness or rash, warmth, redness or darkening, change in size or shape, dimpling or puckering of skin, itchy, scaly sore or rash on nipple, nipple that becomes flat or inverted, nipple discharge, new, persistent pain in one spot, persistent itching, bumps that resemble bug bites, a lump (particularly one that feels like a frozen pea.)”
-Bright Pink Organization.
3).Learn how to give yourself a breast exam
Below is a great source for conducting breast exams. Remember the sequence hands on hips, hands up, feeling while laying down, and feeling while standing up. Breast tissue extends to the collarbone so make sure you are investigating all areas.
Let it be known that 80% of discovered lumps found end up not being cancerous. Additionally, it is important to note these symptoms are common in day to day life and that breasts change shape during menstruation. If you have concerns, or lumps persist past 2–3 weeks, talk to your doctor.
4). Know your body and your personal risk.
Take Bright Pink’s risk assessment here: https://www.assessyourrisk.org/?_ga=1.65175470.1493072344.1476239210
Is there breast cancer on your mother or father’s side? Check both sides and note that men are also able to develop breast cancer, since they too have breast tissue. Learn your families history of cancer (who? how old were they when they were diagnosed?)
5.) Schedule a Mammogram or Well Woman’s Exam
Mammograms begin at the age of 40, when rates of breast cancer increase more exponentially,(http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/GettingOlder.html), but you should also be seeing your doctor once a year for a “well woman’s exam”- where your doctor will feel for abnormalities in your breast and pelvic tissue as they check for breast and ovarian cancer. This exam is now provided free of cost for women under the Affordable Care Act. Knowing your family history could lead you to start yearly mammograms before the age of 40, or to set up more regular breast exams with your doctor than once a year.
6.) Tell your loved one’s what you’ve learned. Advocate. Fundraise. Donate. Support. Remain hopeful. When detected early, the five-year survival rate for breast and ovarian cancer can be greater than 92%.
Ultimately, Breast cancer month is an opportunity to invest in a life-long commitment to personal health and well-being. Understanding the disease and how it relates to you and your loved ones is the ultimate sign of empowerment, and what better time is now?
American Cancer Society @ Cancer.org
Susan G. Komen @ www5.komen.org