Every year thousands of women are impacted by breast cancer, many resulting in death. As one of the leading causes of death among women, it’s important to do regular self-examinations and undergo annual breast checks to preserve the health of your breasts. Regular self-examinations can help you to quickly identify any changes in your breasts, which sometimes include benign or malignant cancers. This is especially critical, as the prime way to prevent cancer is early detection, which more often than not, you’ll be able to achieve with regular breast check.
Age determines the frequency at which you should be getting regular check-ups.
Women Age 20 to their late 30’s:
While women in their twenty’s to late thirty’s can suffer from breast cancer, the likelihood is very low. Only 5% of breast cancer cases are attributed to women under the age of 40. Women thirty-nine years old and younger should do monthly breast self-examinations. The examinations should be done the day after your monthly menstrual cycle ends.
To effectively conduct the self-examination, individuals should familiarize themselves with the size, shape and texture of their breast, as doing so will help them to identify any abnormalities. Women with a family history of breast cancer should be especially cautious as having a family history of breast cancer greatly increases your risk for this disease.
To perform the breast self-examination, take the following steps:
Taking the flat of your fingers, feel around your breasts in a circular motion going from the outside, inward. Feel for any abnormalities including lumps or tenderness of breasts. Depending upon which side is being examined at the moment, raise your arm over your head on that side or lie down on a flat surface like a sofa or the bed to perform the self-examination.
Should you feel anything that is hard, similar to the feel of a frozen pea, contact your physician to determine if it is something abnormal. Doing breast self-examinations early on will aid you in developing a routine that will last throughout your lifetime and help you to identify any issues should they arise later on in life. This is key, as the number one way to prevent the onset of breast cancer is early detection.
It’s also recommended that women under the age of forty, have a clinical breast examination every one to three years as part of their general health examination. A clinical breast examination requires a physician to examine your breasts and the surrounding area for any signs of abnormalities and breast cancer. The physician should also be checking for any adjustments in the shape or size of your breasts, rashes, dimpling or other skin changes and any lumps or discharge from nipples.
Women Age 40 and over:
If you are forty years or older, you should have a clinical breast examination once a year. In addition to this, they should also have an annual mammogram. A mammogram is a soft dosage x-ray machine that takes x-ray images depicting your breasts. The images are then printed on x-ray film or on to a computer screen that will be examined by a radiologist.
Considered the best method to identify cancer or other breast abnormalities, mammograms afford a closer look into the existence or non-existence of lumps alterations in your breast tissue or any growth that may have gone undetected while conducting a professional breast examination. Of course, in conjunction with both of these things, women should continue to do regular breast self-examinations from the comfort of their own home.
Women over the age of forty, with a family history of breast cancer are at increased risk for breast cancer. Women who fall into this category should not only have an annual mammogram, but also an ultrasound and/or MRI.
For more detailed information, please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_self-examination