This is one in a series of articles Patch will publish for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
Do it in the shower. Do it while getting ready for bed. Just do it once a month.
Get familiar with your breasts. Look for lumps, changes in size, shape or feel, and to see if there is any fluid.
All women should know their breasts and surrounding areas so they can be aware of changes, the American Cancer Society recommends.
“I encourage all of you to become an expert about the way your breasts look and feel so you can detect any subtle changes. After all, it’s our body, and we are the ones who have to live with whatever goes wrong with it,” said Jennie Yoon Buchanan, medical director of Women’s Imaging Services at Florida Hospitals.
It’s even more important that women in their 20s see a doctor for a clinical breast exam every three years – and once a year after turning 40. Most doctors recommend annual mammograms for women 40 and older. Higher-risk men and women should see their doctors more often.
“Many breast cancers will be found in women who never felt a lump, because on average, mammography will detect about 80 to 90 percent of the breast cancers in women without symptoms,” said Kristina Thomson, interim executive vice president for the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey.
In Pennsylvania, experts predict 10,570 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the idea is to educate women and men and to raise money for the cure. Sometimes women are afraid to see their doctors, but this is the time to do it.
The American Cancer Society works closely with health departments and health care systems to provide free mammograms. Call 1-800-227-2345 for more information.
Developments in the medical field include diagnostic innovations such as those found at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The hospital is working on more early-detection procedures that are less invasive.
“Improvements in detection as well as insights into surgical treatment options and their outcomes have increasingly led to longer, improved lives for women with breast cancer,” said Dr. Andrew Seidman, who practices in New York and is part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.