October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As you scan your favorite shops, you begin noticing a common trend. Pink socks, shirts, scarves, and coffee cups. Pink is all over. Which only means that October is here, and we all prepare for a month of Breast Cancer Awareness.

It reminds us that this deadly disease is still out there. These adorable, pink pastel colors are here to remind us to get breast exams examine and schedule a mammogram. In reality, nearly 1 out of 8 women in the U.S and 1 out of 1,000 men will get breast cancer in their life, and being active in this battle is crucial.

However, there are a few guidelines. You should do self-breast exams monthly about ten days after menstruation begins. Breasts are unpredictable, changing in texture throughout your cycle. So stay consistent to one specific time a month.

If you don’t menstruate anymore, pick one day every month for self exams. If you usually have lumpy breasts and you’re not sure what “normal” feels like, it’s best to become familiar with them. So much so that if there was a change, you would notice it immediately. Also, check them out in the mirror. Stand with your hands on your hips, then lean forward, then put your hands in the air to look for redness, swelling, and dimpling.

Then have your doctor check them out. Choose one that you are comfortable around, because they will be looking at and touching your breasts every year. Most choose to do it themselves. However, if you found an abnormality, you would need the help of your doctor to get the right tests and conclude what is going on. Your doctor is the only one that can give prescriptions for a diagnostic mammogram or breast sonogram.

Lastly, have a mammogram done, only if you are over 40, or in your late thirties, especially if your family has a history of breast cancer. A woman’s breast cancer risk doubles if they have a first relative with breast cancer. Also, those showing abnormalities in the breasts need a mammogram.

Doctors don’t recommend getting a mammogram if you’re under 35-years-old. If a patient under 35 finds a lump, the first test is usually a sonogram because it does not use radiation. And getting a mammogram isn’t all that bad. A few seconds of light pressure on each breast, and it’s over. The discomfort is worth detecting early stages of cancer when it can be treated quickly. Doctors are so certain on treating stage one breast cancer that they have a five-year survival rate of nearly 100%.

So, monthly self-breast exams, yearly doctor’s exams, and mammograms. Those three tests are best to catch breast cancer early on. When referring to your body, trust your judgment. Never think you are overreacting when you feel something different. If it’s not feeling right, get it looked at. The best or worst that will happen is you go in, and find out it’s nothing.