Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Importance of Self Breast Exams

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to bring awareness to the importance of early detection and screenings. Early detection saves thousands of lives each and every year!

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, it is estimated that over 275,000 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer and 48,500 will lose their fight to this disease in 2020 alone. Breaking those numbers down even further, 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Although these are alarming numbers, death rates from breast cancer have been steadily declining since 1990. This is due to better screening tools, early detection, increased awareness, further research, and improving treatment options.

According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early before it has spread to the lymph nodes and other surrounding tissues, the 5-year survival rate is 99%.  Therefore, early detection is paramount. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams starting in your early 20s and scheduling screening mammograms yearly after the age of 40.

Did you know that 40% of breast cancers are detected through self exams? The more you perform these exams, the easier it will be to detect a change from your baseline.  The best time for you to do these exams is the week after your period ends. If you do not get a period regularly, it is then recommended to pick a day out of the month and be consistent with it each month.

When preforming these exams, use the flat portion of your 3 middle fingers and glad your hands over the entire breast tissues, nipple, and armpit trying not to miss any areas.  Additionally, you want to assess for any skin changes, rashes, dimpling,  nipple discharge, or nipple inversion. Most women preform these exams while they are in the shower.

If you find a lump or a change in your breast while performing your monthly exams, don’t panic - as most lumps are not cancerous anyways- but rather call our office and come in for a clinical breast exam.  We can help determine the next best step and schedule you for breast imaging if needed.  Lastly, if you are struggling with how to preform these exams come in for a consultation and we will teach you the proper techniques.

There are currently over 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States alone. As the daughter of a breast cancer surviver and a health care provider myself, I have seen what this disease can do to women. However, breast cancer does not have to be the reason that you loose loved ones. Although you can’t prevent cancer, it is important to be proactive about your health and take the necessary steps towards a healthier future. In addition to self breast exams and yearly screenings, there are other factors that can help decrease your risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy well balanced diet that is low in sugar is very important. Smoking cessation and decreasing alcohol consumption helps greatly as well. Lastly, staying active and maintaining a healthy body weight further decreases your risk of disease.

Call our office today and schedule your yearly clinical breast exam!

 

Author
Taylore Passero PA-C

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