Do you realize that breast cancer is the second most cancer-related killer in women? According to the American Cancer Society, your risk of getting breast cancer increases with your age. The risk factors include:
1. A family history of breast cancer
2. A long menstrual cycle that began at an early age and stopped at a late age
3. Taking postmenopausal estrogen
4. Never giving birth to a baby
5. Giving birth to your first child after you reached thirty years of age
6. Consuming two or more alcoholic drinks a day
Hopefully, you have been performing self-breast examinations every month for so long now that this routine has become a permanent part of your healthy routine. If not, then it’s never too late to start, and the time to start is now!
If you are still having a menstrual cycle, then you should wait a week after the end of your last period to perform your self breast exam. Don’t try to check your breasts when they are swollen and sore.
If you are postmenopausal, then you can perform the exam on the same day every month. In either case, be sure that you mark your calendar so you will be reminded when it’s time for your next examination.
To perform a self breast exam, lie down on a comfortable bed or sofa. Place a pillow underneath your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. Use the fingers on your left hand to feel your right breast for lumps, bumps, and other unusual growths. Press down firmly and move your fingers around on your breast. Be sure that your exam is thorough by covering the entire area. (The outside of your breast extends towards your underarm.)
Now, switch sides and place the pillow underneath your left shoulder. Place your left arm behind your head. Use the fingers on your right hand to feel your left breast for unusual growths.
To continue into the second phase of the self breast exam, stand up on the floor and place one arm behind your head. Exam your breasts in the same manner as you did when you were lying down.
Finally, stand in front of a full length mirror and visually check your breasts for signs of swelling, discoloration, changes in your nipples, skin irritation, redness, and other unusual symptoms. The more self breast exams you perform, the more you will get to know the normal feel of your breasts.
If you do find a lump or an unusual sign, contact your doctor and set up an appointment for a professional examination. Some changes in your breasts are normal, especially as you become older, so keep that in mind. Also, remember that finding a lump doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s malignant or cancerous in nature.
Self breast exams increase your chances of detecting signs of cancer at an early stage. And, when
breast cancer is found and treated early, the chances of survival are at their highest!
So be sure to mark your calendar and check your breasts every month. The time spent will be an investment in a long and healthy life ahead!