In order to both raise awareness of breast cancer and promote prevention and early detection habits, we at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center are proud to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness month this October. Here are the steps you should take to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer and to catch it early if you do:
Keep a healthy lifestyle
There’s probably nothing to this that you haven’t heard before, but preventing breast cancer is just one more reason you should make healthy life choices. The five most important steps you can take to keep yourself breast-cancer free are:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Staying physically active
- Eating fruits and vegetables
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
Check yourself regularly
It’s recommended that all adult women perform a “self-check” breast exam once a month and tell her doctor about any lumps or consistency changes she finds. The American Cancer Society reports that the five-year survival rate for Stage 1 breast cancer is 100%. So while early detection is important for all cancer survival, for breast cancer it is both important and something you can take charge of yourself.
Early warning signs
Be aware of breast cancer’s early warning signs and keep an eye out for them as you perform your regular self-exam:
- Changes in feeling – Lumps, nipple tenderness and a change in skin texture are all possible indicators of cancer.
- Changes in appearance – Look for size changes, dimpling, nipple direction changes and skin that appears red or scaly.
- Nipple discharge – Clear or bloody discharge can be caused by cancer.
Regular clinical breast exams
In addition to your once-a-month self-check exam, all women should receive a clinical breast exam from their healthcare provider once a year. Your doctor is trained to recognize minute abnormalities and warning signs that could warrant a more thorough examination, such as a mammogram or an ultrasound.
A mammogram is a specialized X-ray machine that allows a trained specialist to examine the breast tissue for abnormalities that could indicate cancer. Often, breast lumps can be seen on a mammogram before they can be felt in a self-check or even a clinical breast exam. All women over 40 should have a mammogram every one or two years. If an abnormality is found on the mammogram, your doctor will order further testing to determine if cancer is present.
To learn more about breast cancer prevention and early detection, call our cancer specialists at Southeastern Medical Oncology Center today at (888) 774-0309 to schedule an appointment, or contact us through our online form here.