October Breast Cancer Awareness

breast cancer awareness monthIn October, we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness. Women are susceptible to breast cancer as early as their 20s. In addition to mammograms, medical professionals agree that self-exams are a must for early breast cancer detection.

Breast self-exams are easy and early detection of breast cancer often means better chances for survival.

If you think you don’t have time for a self-exam, note that 40 percent of women who have breast cancer detected the cancer on their own (usually through self checks) and then sought treatment. If they had not been doing their self breast exams, the cancer may have had even more time to progress.

One easy way to check breasts for signs of cancer is simply to stand in front of a mirror and observe the breasts. Variations in breast sizes are normal, so ignore that. Look for any changes in the contour of the breast including swelling or skin dimpling or changes in the nipples.

After doing a visual exam, you can put one hand behind your head and use the opposite hand to feel the breast for lumps. Using your fingers, feel the breasts in a circular motion, moving from the outside in. Feel toward the armpit area as well. Switch hands and check the opposite breast. If you feel any lumps or changes in breast tissue, contact a health professional. You can do this while standing up in front of a mirror, laying down or in the shower. But make sure to do it at least monthly—maybe on the first day of every month so you get used to a schedule.

We only live once. Taking simple steps to care for ourselves can make a world of difference.