Beat Breast Cancer: Get Tested

It’s October, which means fall has finally arrived! October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Everyday, one in every eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that it is estimated that 252,710 cases of invasive breast cancer are expected in 2017 alone. It is also estimated that over 63,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed as well. Therefore, it is important to begin getting mammograms, even at a young age. Since 1990, mammography has helped reduce breast cancer rates by almost 40%. The American Cancer Society suggests that women who are at an average risk should begin getting tested at the age of forty. For those who are at high risk or have had/have a family member battling breast cancer, they should begin getting tested at the age of thirty.

Getting a mammogram is fairly simple. Women should schedule their appointment for one week after their last menstrual cycle. This will create less discomfort during the procedure. It’s important not to wear lotion or deodorant, as these products can appear as spots in the x-rays and alter the results. The procedure takes about twenty minutes. The breast is compressed while an x-ray is taken. This is repeated multiple times, as the breast has to be repositioned in order to obtain different angles. Results are received within thirty days. The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and most private insurance companies cover the cost for this procedure. There are also programs available to help cover the cost of this procedure for those who don’t have access to healthcare. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collaborates with the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program to help provide annual mammograms and breast exams to low-income and uninsured women across the United States.

There are also many ways to spot signs of potential breast cancer. It’s important to be aware of your own body. One can detect potential signs of breast cancer by performing self-breast examinations routinely. The five steps of performing a self-breast examination are listed down below:

  1. Begin by examining your breasts in the mirror. Pay close attention to their shape, size, and color.  

  2. Raise your arms and look for the same changes.

  3. Pay close attention to the releasement of fluids from your breasts.

  4. Next, asses your breasts while lying down. Using a firm hand, take two fingers and place your fingertips flatly onto your breast and begin examining using either circular or vertical motions, looking for lumps or unusual bulges. Repeat this process on the other breast.

  5. Finally, asses your breasts while standing up. Many women find it easier to do so in the shower because their skin is slippery, making it easier to move your fingers. Using the same techniques discussed in step four, look for unusual lumps or bulges within the breasts. If any bulging or lumps, redness, soreness, or swelling is present, notify your physician immediately.

It’s important to be aware of our body and perform these tests routinely in order to ensure that potential symptoms are detected and addressed at an early stage.

      For more information, feel free to contact your physician, visit the American Cancer Society website, or contact them at 1-800-227-2345.