October is breast cancer awareness month, which means that more and more women become increasingly concerned about their breast health and will schedule appointments with their healthcare providers. While it’s great that you want to have a clinical breast exam to detect any abnormalities, remember that healthcare is a partnership between you and your healthcare provider. The first step to taking control of your breast health is having a sense of breast self-awareness. Follow these easy four steps and your healthcare provider (HCP) will be impressed with the amount of effort you’ve put into your health.
- Risk analysis: Are you at risk for having breast cancer?
- Have an open and honest talk with your family to learn about your family’s health history
- Speak with your HCP about your own personal risk of breast cancer
- Screening: Have you been properly screened for breast cancer?
- If you are an increased risk for breast cancer, ask you HCP about certain screening tests that are more appropriate for your situation.
- If you are 40 and over, you should get a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam.
- Starting at 20 years old, you should have a clinical breast exam performed at least every 3 years.
- Self-Awareness: Everyone is unique and different; what’s normal for you?
- Be sure to do your monthly self breast exams a week after your menstrual cycle so that you can get better acquainted with your breasts and be able to detect any changes.
- If you notice any of the following symptoms, be sure to report to your HCP’s office expeditiously for an exam and to execute a plan of action.
- New onset of constant breast pain in one spot
- Change in size, shape, or contour of breast
- Nipple discharge
- Sudden inverted nipple or other parts of breast
- New lump, knot, or thickening in breast
- Itchy, scaly sore or rashon your nipple
- Swelling, warmth, redness, or discoloration of your breast
- Dimpling of skin of breast or if your breast begins to look like an orange peel
- Live a healthy life: Are you doing your part to live a healthy lifestyle?
- Get to a healthy weight for your height
- Breastfeed your baby
- Exercise or get some physical activity at least 30 mins a day 5x a week
- Avoid alcohol, drug, and tobacco use
- Limit postmenopausal hormone use (Would you rather deal with hot flashes or battle cancer?)
Become an active participant in your health and your body will reward you…and you’ll earn cool points with your healthcare provider!
Remember ladies, keep a healthy demeanor, both inside and out!