October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, a reminder to prioritize our well-being and physical health, including our breasts. Awareness is the first step. Let's make every month a time for breast cancer awareness by staying committed to regular check-ups and incorporating self-examinations into our routine self-care practices
Get to know your breasts
Being attuned to your own body and developing a deep understanding of your breasts is pivotal in recognizing any irregularities. Your breasts are parts of you! It is only natural that you know what they feel and look like. Knowing and becoming familiar with your breasts helps you discover when something is wrong. Your breasts may go through several changes throughout your lifetime. You may experience changes in fullness, sensitivity, and texture during different stages of life including:
It’s important to recognize these changes to help you differentiate between normal and abnormal changes. You can familiarize yourself with your breasts through self-breast exams. Although it is recommended to start getting mammograms starting in your 40s, people, particularly women of all ages, should do regular self-breast exams.
How to do a self-breast exam:
A self-breast exam requires your hands and eyes to help you feel and see unusual changes in your breasts.
Check in the shower - Press lightly and firmly in a circular motion into your breast and armpit area using the pads of your three middle fingers. This breast exam should be performed at least once a month to help you feel lumps, hardening, or thickening in your breast tissue.
Check in the mirror - With your arms at your sides, look for abnormalities such as dimpling or swelling in your breasts and nipples. Next, with your arms still at your sides, press your hands firmly against your hips and flex the muscles under your breasts. Again, check for abnormalities in your breasts and nipples. This breast exam should be performed at least once a month to help you see breast changes.
Check lying down - While lying down, place a pillow behind your right shoulder and put your right arm behind your head. Using the pads of your three middle fingers, press lightly and firmly in a circular motion into your breast and armpit area. Repeat these steps with your left breast. This breast exam should be performed at least once a month to help you feel breast changes.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer early on, sometimes before it’s seen or felt through self-breast exams. It is important to stay up-to-date with breast screenings to prevent and detect breast cancer early. The earlier breast cancer is detected the better the health outcomes.
Signs & Symptoms
Each person can have their own unique set of signs and symptoms when it comes to breast cancer. Some people do not experience any signs or symptoms.
Here are some signs of breast cancer to look out for:
A new lump in your breast or armpit
Thickening or swelling in the breast
Pain, irritation, or redness of the breast or nipple
Dimpling of the skin
Flaky skin of the breast or nipple
Size or shape changes of the breast
Having breast cancer can be very scary. There are several treatment options that may be available to you based on the type of breast cancer, stage, and cancer cell response to treatments. You and your doctor can discuss treatment options that also include your overall health and preferences.
Here are the types of breast cancer treatment options:
Sentinel node biopsy
There are organizations and support groups that offer amazing education and resources for breast cancer. Check out these organizations to learn more: