Breast Cancer Prevention
The best way to get ahead of breast cancer is to prevent it. All women are encouraged to engage in active prevention, in the hopes that breast cancer can be detected and treated in its earliest stages.
Every woman is encouraged to get a breast exam performed by her health care provider every year. An integral part of breast health, it is also important that you perform monthly breast self examinations at home.
Breast Self Examinations
It is easy to perform a breast self-exam yourself. Try to do a breast self-exam about once a month, ideally a few days after your period finishes, as your breasts won't be as tender and swollen at this time. To perform a self-exam:
- Lie down on your bed with a pillow behind your right shoulder.
- Raise your right arm and rest it behind your head.
- Using the fingers on your left hand, gently palpate your right breast in tiny circular motions.
- Feel for lumps, bumps, or anything unusual.
- Then examine your left breast using the same technique.
Keep in mind that women's breast normally change over the month. Also, breasts are made up of many different ducts and tissue therefore it is very normal to have lumps on your breasts as well as different types of lumps in different areas of your breasts.
So how do you know if a lump is something to worry about? When doing a self-exam, you want to look for a lump or bump that is not normal for you. It may take some time for you to get to know your breasts, but it is important that you do. Also, if notice any breast cancer-type symptoms, make an appointment with your health care provider to have it investigated.
Mammograms are used to detect lumps or cancerous cells in your breasts. All women over the age of 40 should have a mammogram every couple of years. Mammograms use x-ray technology to take a picture of your breasts.
During a mammogram, your breasts are squeezed between two plastic plates and then x-rayed. Though this procedures may be uncomfortable, it only lasts for a few seconds.