BSEs, Mammograms, Pink Ribbons…Oh My!

Ladies, it’s October and you know what that means. That means it is time to discuss your favorite October activity – MAMMOGRAMS! We’re sure that you know at a certain age or because of genetics you need to get one, but as a woman, these things to slide by as you are busy working, mothering, or both! But these check-ups are so important…why? Well, look at this infographic:
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. If it’s advanced stage when they diagnose it, only 27% will survive. That’s it. The other 73% won’t. That’s a pretty large percentage. So, why the big emphasis on those monthly breast self-exams and early detection? Because when a woman is able to detect the cancer early, she is more likely to survive. A 98% survival rate is incredible!
What can you do to lower your risks? First, do those monthly breast self-exams (BSE). Hands down, one of the most important because noticing any changes in your breasts is the key to early detection. If you are not doing these, then you need to start. If you don’t know how to do a BSE correctly, the National Breast Cancer Foundation has a wonderful tutorial on how to do these.
Now, not all lumps can be detected through a BSE. This is why mammograms our so important. Some lumps are deep where they cannot be felt. If you have very dense breast tissue, this may also make it more difficult for you to detect them during a BSE.
Another good way to lower your risk is to quit smoking, if you’re a smoker. If you like a glass of wine, go ahead, but just not a whole bottle. Eat healthy and stay active! These things are often cited in lowering your risk for just about everything, but it is the truth. You got to live a healthy lifestyle to be healthy.
Sometimes, you can live a very healthy life, but your genetics may play a larger role than your lifestyle. If you have a close family member who has had cancer or died from it, you will want to start checking early and often. Let your healthcare professional know about your family history as breast cancer is a disease that passes onto to subsequent generations. This applies to the men in your life as well! If their sister, mother, aunt, or grandmother has/had breast cancer, they need to get checked out too! Men are more likely to die from breast cancer because they don’t realize the lump they feel could be breast cancer. It’s a deadly mistake to think only women get it.
Lumps are not the only sign of something abnormal. There are some other signs and changes that may be suspicious and require a professional exam. These changes include:
  • Nipple tenderness
  • Skin changes – the skin of the breast takes on an orange peel-like texture
  • Nipple discharge
  • Swelling of the breast (usually only one)
  • Inverted nipple(s)
  • Sudden asymmetry of the breasts
  • Dimpling of the breast, nipple, or areola

If you notice any of these changes, please contact your healthcare professional immediately and get a clinical exam performed.
October is a great month to schedule your annual mammogram. With the amount of breast cancer awareness coverage, you’ll never forget to have it done! They are free under your insurance plan. They have to (by law) be part of your benefits at no cost to you. These preventive screenings save lives, so if you have insurance, you have no excuse as to why you shouldn’t get one.

If you do not have insurance, there are nonprofits that provide screening at a discount or for free. In Houston, on such place is The Rose. Early detection is the key to beating this disease until we have a cure. Check those breasts monthly, have your annual mammogram done, and remember to GO PINK for October!