October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and its important to us to spread the word on early detection. According to the American Cancer Society, the average risk of a woman developing breast cancer sometime during her life is 12%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance a woman will develop breast cancer. Although breast cancer cannot be prevented, there are steps you can take to detect it earlier.
- Symptoms and Signs: While many symptoms and signs are invisible and will only be noticeable with a screening from a doctor, there are a few symptoms that can be caught early just by being proactive about your breast health. These include: a change in how the breast or nipple feels, a change in the breast or nipple appearance, and any nipple discharge- especially clear or bloody discharge. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your healthcare professional.
- Perform a Breast Self-Exam: Women of all ages are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam once a month to check for anything unusual in their breasts. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states, “Forty percent 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 detect a lump before you can feel it, a breast exam allows you to be comfortable and familiar with your breasts, and will help better prepare you if you notice something off. Perform your self-exam in the shower, in front of a mirror, and lying down, all while using light and firm pressure.
- Schedule a Yearly Mammogram: A mammogram is an x-ray that allows a healthcare professional to examine the breast tissue for anything suspicious. It’s important to schedule a yearly mammogram because they can help detect lumps before they can be felt. Women over 40 years of age are recommended to schedule a mammogram appointment every 1 or 2 years, and women under 40 that have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether or not they should have mammograms and how often.
Breast cancer can be a scary thing, but taking these steps can better prepare you if that day ever comes. If you have questions or want to learn more about early detection, visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation website for some great resources and information.
If you’re a woman who’s been affected by breast cancer, and need a place that you feel comfortable, Pink Ribbons Memphis has your back. With years of experience in the medical community, owners Susan and Lynn understand the specific needs of women who have had or have breast cancer. Stop by our store at 716 North White Station Road, Memphis, TN or visit our website.