October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, devoted to breast health education, the benefits of early detection, and annual mammogram reminders.
In 2018, breast cancer will claim 41,000 lives, our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. Early detection begins with awareness, so start talking pink with the women in your lives. My mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and survival began with a conversation.
Uncomfortable? Perhaps, but worth it, so let's get the pink conversation started!
Self-Exams with Every Shower?
Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel leads to early detection and the successful treatment of breast cancer. Setting aside some time for self-exams with every shower, quickly becomes routine. Familiarity and frequency improves the odds of noticing any changes in breast tissue more quickly.
Feel and Look?
Absolutely, many abnormalities are easier to detect visually, such as dimpling, puckering, redness, darkening, blood vessel growth, orange-peel texture, and any changes in nipple size or shape. When in doubt, have the doctor check it out!
Know the Signs?
Although you may already know the signs, it may be the case for many of the women in your life. Other than a lump or mass, other common signs of breast cancer include:
- Dimpling or Puckering
- Breast or Nipple Pain
- Nipple Retraction
- Redness, Scaling, or Thickening of the Nipple or Skin
- Nipple Discharge
Mammograms detect changes in breast tissue up to two years sooner than self-exams or screenings by a physician. According to the American College of Radiology, all women that are 40 years of age or older should receive annual mammograms. Physicians may recommend screenings for women younger who are symptomatic or have family history of breast cancer. An important reminder considering that only 65.3% of the women receive the recommended annual mammogram.
When in Doubt, Check it Out!
No matter how insignificant, report any changes in breast tissue to a Physician, as soon as possible. Survival rates improve with early detection of breast cancer, so never ignore the signs. Hope and positivity be damned, it is better to be safe than sorry.