Okay before we get to the tata’s you have to watch this:
How freaking cool is she?!
In celebration of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought now would be the perfect time to talk about our breasts.
Did you know that approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime?
1 in 8.
If you’re a human with breasts, then you need to know about early detection and how breast self-exams work.
Once A Month
First things first, what is a breast self-exam? A breast self-exam is when you regularly examine your breasts on your own as a way to find breast cancer early.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.
Johns Hopkins Medical center says, “40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your doctor if there are any changes.
Key warning signs of breast cancer:
- A new lump in the breast or underarm area
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin or the nipple
- New unexplained redness or thickening of the breast skin
- Changes to the nipple including: skin thickening, irritation, pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
How to Perform a Self Examination
1) In the Shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
2) In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3) Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Never Rely on Self-Exams Alone
Never rely on self examinations alone to detect breast cancer. Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. But when combined with regular medical care and appropriate guideline-recommended mammography, breast self-exams can help women know what is normal for them so they can report any changes to their doc.
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer, and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
By performing monthly breast self-exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast.
Where Does Breast Cancer Form?
According to Medical News Today, most breast cancers begin in the milk ducts. These are tube-like structures that deliver milk to the nipples. Cancer may also form in the glands that produce milk, called lobules.
Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer
We all know there’s no way to actually prevent cancer from happening, but there are some habits that can help reduce your risk. Here’s what you can do to help yourself:
- Keep up with a healthy weight
- Stay physically active
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Do not smoke, ever
- Limit your alcohol consumption
Schedule an Annual Exam with Your Doc
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be effective. As a woman, you should have a physical every year which should include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, I’d like to remember my Nana, Betty Sue who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2004.