October is Breast Cancer awareness month. Cancer cannot yet be prevented, but there are three things you can do to help detect it earlier. This will give the medical community the best possible chance a defeating cancer with you.
Step One: Be aware of potential symptoms
Unusual nipple tenderness, changes in areola, nipple or breast-skin texture, including enlarged pores, pitting or reddened scaling, a lump in/ near the breast or underarm, unexplained change in size or shape of breast, swelling of the breast, particularly on only one side, decrease in breast size especially if it is only on one side, a nipple that has turned inward or become inverted, skin of areola, or nipple has become scaly, red, or swollen; also may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange, or nipple discharges, particularly if they are clear or bloody.
Step Two: Perform self-exams
Your best line of defense is to perform monthly breast exams. In the shower – Move the pads of your finger in a circular patter from the outside to the center of each breast and armpit area. If a lump, thickening tissue, or a hard knot is detected, contact your healthcare provider.
In front of a mirror, visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your side and with your arms raised above your head.
Step Three: Get a mammogram.
Get them early and get them often. Current guidelines say women over 40 should have mammograms every one to two years. Women under 40 that have breast-cancer risk factors, should ask their doctor how often they should have one and will likely start having mammograms in their 30s.