Statistically speaking, you probably know a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer at one point in her life. Over 252,710 women in the United States are diagnosed each year and more than 40,500 will die from the cancer. This makes breast cancer one of the leading causes of death for women. This October, observe National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by asking the loved ones in your life to assess their personal risk.
Cancer, a broad term for diseases caused by abnormal cell growth, invades healthy cells in your body and can spread to other areas of the body. Breast cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop in the breast. While the disease mostly affects women, an estimated 2,470 men will be diagnosed each year.
One of the best ways to assess your risk for breast cancer is to administer a monthly self-examination. Inspecting your breasts in front of a mirror is a great way to see if there are any recent changes that might indicate breast cancer.
Visually inspect your breasts to look for changes and then raise your arms above your head. When you feel your breasts through your self-examination, you are looking for various signs:
- Nipple tenderness or a lump in or near the breast or underarm area
- A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast
- A lump in the breast
- Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen or may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange
- Milky discharge in a breast when a woman is not pregnant or breastfeeding
Administering self-examinations are important because 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. Make sure that you do your self-examination at the same time next month, so your hormones don’t affect your breast tissue differently.
Additionally, mammograms may discover lumps before they are detectable through a self-examination. If you are a woman and at least 40 years old, you should schedule a mammogram every one to two years.
During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make sure to convince your loved ones to assess their personal risk of developing breast cancer. While there is no clear way to prevent breast cancer, you can be in control of lowering many risk factors.
Preventative health costs are covered with all plans through Nevada Health Link, so make sure to schedule a preventative screening for breast cancer today.