As many of you may know, the month of October is observed as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month” (NBCAM). NBCAM was founded in 1985, by two well know organizations, the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. Imperial Chemical Industries, now part of AstraZeneca, are the producers of several anti-breast cancer drugs. The goal of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is to encourage women ages 40-70 to have mammography screenings. Mammography screening should be performed every one to two years. During this month there will be many fundraisers, campaigns and charity events around the country. These different events were designed to help raise money for research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
It is still very important that young women under the age of 40 be aware of any abnormal signs or symptoms as well. However, women under the age of 40 are not required to have mammograms, most insurance carriers will not cover the procedure. It may be a good idea to ask your physician what normal is for your breast. Once you know what your normal is, you can began doing at home breast exams. The at home technique is to help you notice any unusual lumps, skin changes or even discharge. Provided below are some simple tips, so you can began doing your at home exam.
How should a breast self-exam be performed?
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 lumps thickening, or hardened knots. Any noticeable changes or lumps should evaluated by your healthcare provider immediately.
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 such as the contour, swelling, or dimpling of the skin, as well as 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.
Always remember, BE HAPPY AND HEALTHY!