While many wear pink in October to acknowledge National Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s the third Friday this month that serves as a reminder that the best defense against breast cancer is early detection.
October 20 is National Mammography Day and it acts as a reminder to all women to do monthly self-exams and to schedule your regular check-up with your doctor.
Considering that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, this is information every woman in your life needs to know.
According to Bright Pink, a national breast cancer non-profit, breast self-awareness is the key when it comes to early detection. All adult women should perform at least a monthly breast self-exam.
“Everybody’s breasts are different, so it’s about getting to know the normal look and feel of your breasts, and speaking up if you notice any changes. Keep tabs on yourself to make sure your breasts are their usual size, shape and color,” suggests Bright Pink.
“Touch your breast tissue from multiple angles with varying pressure to feel both the deep and surface layers, from the interior by your ribs to just below the skin. Don’t forget that your breast tissue extends up your collarbone, around to your armpits, and into your breastbone.”
A Johns Hopkins Medical study found that 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.
During your routine checks, if you notice any of these symptoms that persist or get worse, reach out to your doctor:
Swelling, soreness or rash
Warmth, redness or darkening
Change in size or shape
Dimpling or puckering of skin
Itchy, scaly sore, rash, or discharge from nipple
New, persistent pain in one spot
A lump, particularly one that feels like a frozen pea
Yet the experts from Bright Pink say if you find a lump, don’t panic. 80 percent of lumps found are not cancerous.
While breast self-exams help you be familiar with how your breasts feel and look, a mammogram can often detect issues before there is any outward physical sign.
The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 40-44 have the choice to start annual screenings with mammograms. Women ages 45-54 should get mammograms every year and women over 55 can switch to mammograms every two years.
If you have family history of breast cancer, your recommendations may differ and mammograms may be recommended at an even earlier age.
So celebrate National Mammography Day by getting to know your own ladies with a self-exam and scheduling your regular check-up or mammogram. You won’t regret it.