The first Brest Cancer Awareness Month was in 1985. Since then, every October, we observe this important campaign.
This annual event aims to educate women about the prevalence of breast cancer and how early detection tests can help them take charge of their health.
During October, we celebrate breast cancer survivors and those currently battling the disease. These brave women are encouraged to share their stories hoping they can help save others’ lives. The campaign also focuses on raising funds for breast cancer research and developing treatment therapies, with the ultimate goal of finding a definitive cure for this devastating disease.
Take Charge of Your Breast Health
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women. Currently, mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer early. Early detection is crucial because it makes it easier to treat, and patients can avoid complications.
Every patient experiences the disease differently, and some women don’t develop any symptoms during the early stages of their illness. However, there is a list of common warning signs that everyone should know.
- Presence of lump in the breast or armpit
- Changes in the shape or size of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast, including the nipple area
- Unusual nipple discharge, including blood
- Thickening or inflammation of part of the breast
- Unexplained irritation, redness, or flaky skin in any part of the breast
- Gender: Although breast cancer is not a gender-exclusive illness, women have a much higher incidence of the disease.
- Age: Women over the age of 50 are at greater risk compared to younger women
- Genes: Changes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of developing breast cancer
How can you Help Lower Your Risk?
Although there is no way to guarantee you won’t get sick, there are proven ways that can help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, including:
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active
- Speak to your doctor about the risks associated with hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills
- If possible, breastfeed your children
How to Do a Breast Self-Exam
Regularly doing a breast self-exam is vital to identify breast cancer early. At this point, no single diagnostic test can detect every cancer case; however, Breastcancer.org encourages women to perform breast self-exams regularly in combination with other screening tests.
Steps to Perform a Self-Examination
While topless, stand in front of a mirror to look at your breasts. Keep your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips.
Check for the following:
- Your breasts are their usual size, shape, and color
- There is no visible distortion or swelling on either breast
Speak to your gynecologist if you notice any of the following:
- Bulging, dimpling, or puckering of the skin
- Changes in nipple appearance or position such as an inverted nipple
- Swelling, soreness, redness, or rash
Raise your arms above your head and check for the same changes as in step one.
Look for any signs of nipple discharge, including fluid that is watery, milky, or yellow, or blood
Lie down and feel your breasts. Use your right hand to inspect your left breast and your left hand to check your right breast.
Using your finger pads and keeping them flat and together, proceed to use smooth small circular motions covering the entire breast from your armpit to your cleavage and then from your collarbone to your abdomen.
Make sure to feel all the tissue. For skin and tissue, use light pressure on the skin and tissue, medium pressure in the middle of your breast, and firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. While examining the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Using the same guidelines as in step 4, feel your breast while standing or sitting.
What to Do If You Find a Lump in Your Breast
If you find a lump in one or both of your breasts, it’s essential to stay calm. Luckily most lumps turn out to be benign and not cancer. However, we recommend you get a mammogram test as soon as possible and speak to your doctor about any changes or symptoms you may have.
At Women’s OB/GYN Center, we are committed to helping women stay healthy and active through every phase of their reproductive life cycle. Modern medicine can successfully treat breast cancer in most women when detected early.
We encourage all our patients to regularly perform breast self-exams and take care of every aspect of their sexual health.