October is Breast Cancer Awareness month! Last week we touched on avoidable and unavoidable risk factors of breast cancer. We know that DNA has the largest factor on breast cancer occurrence and while it can’t be prevented, there are three important steps to help detect it earlier, which in turns increases your chances of finding the breast cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body and is harder to treat. Women can proactively increase their chances of early detection of breast cancer by following these three recommended steps included in the guidelines set by the American Cancer Society. This three-pronged approach is believed to be more effective than any one exam or test alone.
1.Breast self-exam (BSE)- A BSE is something every woman should do once a month at home. Breast self-exams help you become familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your doctor if there are any changes.
2.Clinical breast exam (CBE)- The CBE is performed by a healthcare professional who is trained to recognize many different types of abnormalities and warning signs. This in-office exam is typically completed by your family physician or gynecologist at your annual exam.
3.Mammogram- A mammogram is an X-ray that allows a specialist to examine the breast tissue for any suspicious areas. Mammograms can often show a breast lump before it can be felt.
· Breast self-exam (BSE)- 20 years old and over- Check yourself monthly. Women should be told about benefits and limitations of BSE. They should report any new symptoms to their doctor.
· Clinical breast exam (CBE)- 20 - 39 years old- Clinical exam should be part of the periodic health exam, preferably every 3 years. 40 years old and over- Clinical exam should be part of the periodic health exam, preferably every year.
· Mammogram- 40 years old and over- Yearly, continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
To schedule a mammogram, speak with you primary care physician.