Every year, October is designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness and educate the public about this very serious disease. Medical professionals, public service organizations, government agencies and private citizens collaborate to share information and promote activities that will help bring an end to breast cancer.
As women, we must do all that we can to be informed and proactive about our own breast health by becoming familiar to all of the resources available to us. Here are some suggestions:
One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to be screened regularly. Each woman is different and, based on your family history, lifestyle or other factors, you may need to evaluated more or less frequently. Previously women were told to get screened starting around the age of 40. Then guidelines shifted to 50. Ultimately it depends on your body, your family history, and your risk factors – so speak to your health provider to come up with a plan that works best for you.
Perform Monthly Self-Exams
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” It’s so simple but we so often forget. The NBCF offers a fantastic tutorial on their website.
Learn The Early Warning Signs
According to the National Cancer Institute, “when breast cancer is detected early, in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 98%.” That is incredible! For that reason, it is important to not only be screened and perform monthly self-exams but it is also vital to recognize any other symptoms. Early warning signs can include:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that does not go away
Go Pink and Spread the Word!
Throughout October, wear pink and help spread the word about breast cancer. Check out these four things to consider during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You can also host a fundraiser, get involved in national events, volunteer or donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Together, we can make a huge difference!