Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness about the disease and to provide support for those affected by it. This month, we want to take a moment to remember everyone affected by breast cancer and their loved ones.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women. It is a disease in which abnormal cells in the breast develop and grow, often leading to lumpy, painful breasts. Breast cancer is not contagious and cannot spread from person to person, but it can be caused by some inherited genes that make a person more likely to get certain types of breast cancer.
Who gets breast cancer?
Women over age 40 are at the highest risk of developing breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women
will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, though this rate had declined since 1975 when it was 1 in 3 women. The risk increases with age, so after age 70, there is close to a 1% chance that someone you know will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
How Should You Conduct Your Breast Exam?
A breast self-exam for breast cancer awareness is a self-performed breast examination. To increase your breast awareness, you examine your breasts with your eyes and hands to detect any changes in their appearance or texture.
1) In the Shower
Check the entire breast and armpit region with the pads/flats of your three middle fingers, applying light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts monthly for lumps, thickening, hardened nodules, or other breast changes.
2) In Front of a Mirror
Examine your breasts visually with your arms at your sides. Next, extend your arms overhead.
Examine the contour, any swelling or dimples on the skin, and the nipples for any changes. Next, place your palms on your hips and press with force to contract your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not be identical—few women's breasts are symmetrical—so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes on one side in particular.
3) Lying Down
When in a supine position, the breast tissue evenly distributes itself along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder while placing your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, gently wrap the fingertip pads around your right breast and armpit, covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Utilize light, moderate, and firm pressure. Check for discharge and lumps by applying pressure to the nip. Repeat this procedure for your left breast.
Finding a lump or other change does not necessarily indicate cancer.
Also, it's important to remember that breast self-exams do not replace regular mammograms or annual doctor exams.
Mammograms are a great way to screen for breast cancer, but they aren't perfect. Although the test itself is extremely accurate, it's not always clear what signs and symptoms you should look for when your doctor suggests it.
Mammograms can be used to detect breast cancer, either as a screening test in women without symptoms or as a diagnostic test in women with possible cancer-related symptoms. Mammograms can often detect breast cancer in its earliest stages when it is small and even before a lump can be felt.
What does a mammogram actually do? Mammograms use special X-rays to take images of your breasts, which can show any abnormalities in your breast tissue. The images will be sent to a technician, who will then look at them and compare them with other images that show normal breast tissue. If there are any changes in your breasts' appearance or density, you may have an abnormality that needs further investigation by a medical professional.
If you have breast cancer, it means that your body has an abnormal growth of cells that can spread and cause serious illness or death. Mammograms may be part of a total health checkup by your doctor or at a screening clinic.
If you're concerned about having this test done regularly because of something else going on in your life (like being pregnant), talk with your doctor before scheduling an appointment.