Research

Early Detection Saves Lives

“Early detection saves lives” is the mantra that you will hear throughout the month of October. So what exactly does that mean for you and what are you supposed to do?

Most breast cancer organizations recommend that beginning in your 20s, you should look at your breasts and be aware of how they normally look and feel.  Because your breasts change throughout your monthly menstrual cycle, it is suggested that you establish a regular schedule to examine your breasts and choose a time when your breasts are not tender or swollen.  The American Cancer Society recommends that you lie down on your back and place your right arm behind your head.  The exam is done while lying down, not standing up. This is because when lying down the breast tissue spreads evenly over the chest wall and is as thin as possible, making it much easier to feel all the breast tissue.

Medical professionals and breast cancer organizations know that many breast cancers are discovered by patients so therefore if you become familiar with your breasts you will be more aware of anything that looks or feels unusual.   One in eight women will be affected by breast cancer in her lifetime and the chances of survival are greater if breast cancer is detected early.

What are you looking for?

BrightPink.org. has made it pretty simple to figure out what you are looking for and suggest that at the same time each month, look at your breasts and make sure that they are their normal size, shape and color and that they are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling. If you should see or feel any of the following symptoms, that don’t go away, see your doctor.

  • Swelling, soreness or rash.
  • Warmth, redness or darkening.
  • Change in the size or shape of either breast.
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash around the nipple.
  • Nipple that becomes flat or inverted.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • New pain in one spot that does not go away.
  • Persistent itching
  • Bumps that resemble bug bites.

If you see something unusual, don’t be alarmed – 80% of breast lumps are benign (non cancerous) according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  Again, your breasts change shape and size throughout the month, so if you spot or feel something irregular, it does not mean you have cancer but for peace of mind, call you doctor.  .

How do I perform a Breast Self Exam (BSE)?

During the month of October there are many opportunities to find information on exactly how to perform a BSE.  If you are unable to attend a breast cancer awareness event, go online and Google “breast self exam.”  In addition to finding written instructions, there are many videos that you can watch.  If you have any questions ask your health care provider to show you.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation says that when breast cancer is detected early the five-­year survival rate is 98%.   Remember this and start checking today!
Early detection saves lives!

 

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