It’s October, which means, colder weather, pumpkin spice everything, and pink ribbons showing up all over your favorite food containers and in commercials. By now, you probably know that October is breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer is a very serious issue among women, and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for women behind lung cancer. According to the American Cancer Society more than 60,000 women will be diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer, 230,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and some 40,000 women will die of the illness, this year alone. While these numbers are scary, they do point to one important fact: getting tested can save your life!
Unfortunately, most women do not find out about their breast cancer until it has reached the latter stages. The later the stage the cancer is found the more complicated treatment becomes, and increases the possibility of dying from the illness. This is why it is so important to get tested, as well as get breast exams. Mammograms are the often prescribed testing method for breast cancer. While it is recommended that women over fifty get a mammogram every two years, for those who are younger, it is advised you speak with your doctor to inquire when to get a mammogram. Some women have a higher likelihood for breast cancer, if it runs in their family, therefore your physician may advise you start getting regular mammograms prior to turning fifty. There are two types of mammograms, a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram. The screening mammogram is the type used for women who are getting a checkup, and the diagnostic mammogram is used after a lump has been found. Mammograms are not the only form of breast cancer screening available.
Even if you are nowhere near fifty, or have any risk factors for breast cancer it is important that you get acquainted with your own tatas! Regular, breast self-examinations have helped many women save their own life. Frequent regular self-examination will help you to get familiar with the feel of your own breasts. This will make it particularly easy to identify if something feels out of place. Breast self-examinations are relatively easy and painless. All it takes is a few minutes, you can do it while in the shower or getting dressed in the morning. To do your own self-examinations, simply lift one hand over your head and place behind your back, so your elbow is point upward. With the other hand, take two fingers and move them in a circular motion, starting on the outer part of your breast, moving inward. You should be feeling for any lumps, hardened skin, or thickening. Remember to check your armpit area too, as breast tissue extends under the arm, as well. When done, simply repeat on the other side. Self-breast exams should be done at least once a month, if not more frequently.
Breast cancer can be a scary subject to talk about. However, October marks the perfect time of year to make a commitment to yourself and your health. Remember, while all the “save the tatas!” slogans are going around, this is more than just pink ribbons and a few donations. It is a commitment to yourself, as a woman, to put your health and your well-being first.