Ladies, every October, we start seeing pink everywhere. Women enroll in breast cancer walks, wear pink ribbons, and even the men get in on the act, with the National Football League wearing pink towels and sports shoes. October has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness month. The question is, how aware are you of breast cancer?
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the formation of cancerous cells in the breast. If not caught early, it can spread to the lymph nodes of the immune system and beyond to other parts of the body, including, lung, liver, bone and brain.
What are the possible signs?
Here are some of the physical signs that you should become familiar with
• Breasts that are not the usual size, shape, and color- one breast is usually larger than the
other but if one breast suddenly becomes larger
• A swelling or odd-looking bulging in the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• An inverted nipple, that is, one which sticks in rather than out- this must be a new
finding as some women have inverted nipples naturally
• A nipple that has changed location
• Redness, soreness, rash
• Peeling skin around the nipple
How can you be proactive in your breast self-care?
• Adding more exercise and activity to your day
• Avoiding alcohol
• Not smoking cigarettes
• Not using hormonal contraceptives if you don’t need to
• Maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause
• Not using hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) if you don’t need to and if you do use more natural forms
• Avoiding getting too much radiation from X-rays or other diagnostic tests that use
• Eating a healthy diet, which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and high quality
protein, such as salmon, tofu and kidney beans.
• Avoiding processed foods, red meat and cow milk that is not organic. Not eating charred or grilled red meat.
• Avoiding lots of chemicals in your personal care products, household cleaners: consider making your own natural versions of these at home
There are also other ways to stay that you can stay on top of your breast health
The Know your Lemons campaign has become a huge success in getting women to become more breast cancer aware and learn how to give themselves exams. https://www.worldwidebreastcancer.org
Examine yourself regularly, such as once a month- if you have a period then you should do this one week after your period when your breast are not so hormonally influenced.
Regular Medical Check-ups
Regular medical check-ups are important for getting a clinical breast exam from your medical provider to confirm anything you might not find in your own self-exam or pick up anything you might have missed.
Mammograms are a fairly reliable way to detect breast cancer, though they are not 100% fool-proof. They use small doses of radiation to scan the breasts for any irregularities or tumors. They do use radiation, so some people are concerned that mammograms might actually cause cancer. Scientifically this has not been proved.
Another issue is that these tests have to be administered by humans and assessed by them, which means there is room for human error. The machines have to be calibrated correctly and the test administered properly. Up to 25% of mammograms might result in recalls, which can be very upsetting for some women.
There can also be false positives, leading to unneeded treatment. There can also be false negatives, telling women they are in the clear when they actually have early grade cancer. That is why if you feel something is wrong you need to push for further testing. Remember ladies I am always preaching that you need to be your #1 self-care advocate. Despite the above ladies, I still believe that mammograms are the best screening test that we have so far.
Some breast cancer has a genetic component, that is, it runs in families. If you have a family history of breast cancer talk to your medical provider to see if getting a BRCA test is right for your history. This test is to determine whether you have the gene mutation that might make it more likely for you to develop cancer.
Be an advocate for women’s health. Share what you learn with the help of this free kit: https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/PDFs/OctoberNHOToolkit.pdf
and help women prevent breast cancer, or detect it early, when it is easier to treat it successfully.
- Leave a comment and let me know if you have had your yearly mammogram if you are of age?
- Start putting a regularly scheduled date to do your monthly self breast exam on your calendar.
- Sign-up on the right hand side of this page to get our monthly women’s health care tips.