There are many misunderstood views about the chances of a woman developing breast cancer in her life. The belief several years ago was that the increased incidence of breast cancer was due to delay in having children, not breast feeding, hereditary factors, obesity, and onset of early menses. Other myths are that only women over 50 get it and women who have no history of breast cancer in their family are not susceptible to it. Breast cancer is on the increase in the United States with 1 in 8 to 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. It is fortunate that though there is an increase in breast cancer, the majority of them are being caught early enough so that the prognosis and treatment options allow women to live longer with their disease. That’s why it’s important that each of us learn what we can do to prevent and identify breast cancer.
What can you do?
There are special tests that can be done to find changes in your breasts early. When breast cancer is found in its early stages, it can be treated and in a lot of cases cured. The steps that can be done that are helpful are the following:
- Do a breast self exam (BSE) every month
- Have a clinical breast exam by your doctor or a yearly basis and sooner if you feel or suspect a suspicious
- mass, redness and swelling of the breast, or a bloody nipple discharge
- Have a mammogram
- Reducing the amount of animal fat in your body is associated with a decrease in the incidence of breast cancer. We encourage patients to stay away from all meats and eat a healthy whole food plant based meals.
- Plant protein has not been noted to increase the incidence of breast cancer.
- Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Don’t gain weight after menopause
- Drink less than one drink of alcohol a day as more than that is associated with a increased incidence of breast and colon cancer.
Why is a breast self exam important?
Performing regular breast self exams will allow you to become comfortable with how your breasts look and feel, so that if anything changes, you’ll know. See your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following changes in your breasts:
• A lump, hard knot, or thickening
• New pain in one area that doesn’t go away
• Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening
• Change in the size or shape
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• Nipples becomes sore, has a rash on it, scaly and or itchy.
• Nipple inversion (pulling in of your nipple) or other parts of the breast
When should I get a breast exam by a medical specialist?
A clinical breast exam is done by your doctor or nurse in an office, clinic or medical center. He or she will look at and feel your breasts and under your arms to look for breast changes. Sometimes breast cancer can be felt and not seen on a mammogram.
- Have a breast exam when you are age 20
- Have a breast exam at least every 3 years between ages 20 and 39
- Have a breast exam every year if you are over age 40
At the Women’s Center, we will perform a medical breast exam every time you come in for your yearly annual exam and any other time if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Please call our office nearest you for an appointment to have a breast exam done performed any day of the week.
For step-by-step breast self exam instructions, go to www.komen.org/bse
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