Breast Care Basics for Every Woman
October is breast cancer awareness month. Early detection of breast cancer is key for a successful recovery. Our team of compassionate breast care specialists wants you to be empowered with some breast care basics that could save your life.
Monthly Self Breast Exam
Performing a monthly self-breast-exam provides you and your healthcare team with a number of benefits.
First, it’s important to get to know what is normal for your breasts. Breast size, shape, composition, and density varies. Establishing a baseline for yourself by knowing what your breasts look like is helpful. Take a few minutes each month to look at your reflection in the mirror. If you notice anything different get in touch with your doctor.
Next, you should know what your breasts feel like. Think of each breast as a tree. Your nipple area represents the trunk and milk ducts are the branches. This visualization can be helpful for understanding the tissues of your breasts. To perform a self breast exam begin at the outside branches of your breast, away from the nipple. Move your fingers in a clockwise circular motion. Continue with the circular motion as you work your way to the nipple. Be sure to also examine the tissue from your breast all the way to your underarm. Make note of any abnormalities.
If you would like more detailed guidance about performing a self breast exam, we suggest reading through these instructions on WebMD.
Try to perform your self-breast-exam around the same time each month. It can help to time your self breast exam about one to two weeks after the last day of your period. If you forget, don’t worry. Just perform a self-breast-exam when you remember. Then, make it a routine part of self-care.
Medical Breast Screening
It’s best to have at least one medical breast exam each year. By visiting your primary care physician, and / or at your annual gynecology checkup, having a medical professional perform a breast exam is an important element of screening. And, it helps your care providers understand your body. With regular exams they can establish what baseline normal looks and feels like for you.
When you are in for routine care, make a point of discussing your breast cancer risk factors with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend genetic counseling or testing based on your conversation and the health history information you provide.
When Should I Get a Mammogram?
Personal care physicians report that more women are asking when they should get mammograms. This may be because federal guidance has become more nuanced. In short, you should get a mammogram when you and your doctor decide that you should have one.
Most women begin mammogram screenings at age 40. Many women need mammogram screenings earlier due to risk factors. There are a number of screening techniques and technologies available. The best screening approach for you can be determined by you and your medical care team.
The best part about enhanced screening technologies is the increased diagnostic accuracy. Women with dense breasts, risk factors, or history of breast cancer may require multiple screening techniques to identify lumps or rule out a diagnosis.
- The 2D mammogram is a gold-standard for breast screening
- The 3D mammogram is often recommended for women with dense breast tissue
- Thermography is sometimes used as an alternative because it omits no radiation
- Breast ultrasound is often used to help diagnose, identify or pinpoint breast irregularities
- In certain cases, your doctor may recommend an MR
Breast Cancer Outlook is Much Improved
We’ve made progress in the fight against breast cancer and the outlook after diagnosis and treatment is much improved.
The CDC reports that since 1989 the mortality rates associated with a breast cancer diagnoses have decreased by 40-percent. Today, 90-percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are alive five years later. And, 99-percent of women with early stage or localized breast cancer are alive five years later.
Our team of breast care specialists continues to be inspired by the many women, and a few men too, who come to us for breast care. It’s why we sponsor Come Walk with Me every year. You’re invited to join our Come Walk with Me team, the Tumor-Nators, and donations are welcome to support the fight against breast cancer.