Breast Cancer Awareness: What You Need to Know
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heighten your awareness of this, the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States.
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Breast cancer facts and stats
- 1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer during the course of her lifetime
- More than 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2018
- More than 40,000 people – men and women – will die from breast cancer in 2018
- Your risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if you have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with the disease
- 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be caused my inherited gene mutations
- Women with a BRCA1 mutation have on average a 55 to 65 percent risk of developing breast cancer, and those with a BCRA2 mutation have a lifetime risk of 45 percent.
Go ahead – touch yourself
Regular mammograms are still essential for early detection of cancerous tumors, but according to John’s Hopkins Medical Center, forty percent of breast cancers are detected by women during a regular breast self-exam. Use these tips from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., to check your girls on a regular basis.
In the shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your breast in a circular pattern, moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Feel for any lumps, thickening or hardened knot.
In the mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, then raise your arms overhead. Look for changes in contour, any swelling or dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match – few women’s breasts do – but look for dimpling, puckering or changes, particularly on one side.
When lying down the breast tissue spreads out evenly. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and raise your right arm above your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions, covering the entire breast and armpit area. Use light, medium and firm pressure, then squeeze your nipple and check for discharge. Repeat on the left side.
If you find a lump
Schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic. Eighty percent of most lumps are non-cancerous.