Going to second base: Exams key to preventing breast cancer

By Victoria Hardina | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Ladies, it’s time to take your tops off! Yes, you read right. Let’s protect your ta-ta’s and do a self check for breast cancer.

Did you know women should be feeling and examining their breasts once a month to check for abnormalities?

Unity Outreach, an organization focused on breast cancer awareness stated that nearly 70 percent of all breast cancers are found through self exams and with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent.

So here’s how you do it:

  • First, take your bra off and stand in front of a mirror.
  • Watch closely in the mirror and clasp your hands behind your head and press hands forward. You should be able to feel your chest muscles tighten.
  • Next, press hands firmly on hips and bow slightly toward the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.
  • Look for changes in shape, size, dimpling, puckering or redness on your breasts.
  • Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple and make sure no fluids are coming out.
  • Next it’s time to lie down. Put a pillow under your right shoulder and beneath your head.
  • Use your left three middle fingers and move in a circular motion, or up and down motion, around your breast to feel for lumps, knots or thickening (check your armpits too). Then move on to the other breast.
  • If you do find a lump or abnormality, schedule an appointment with your doctor so they can further check and see if you need a mammogram (low dose x-ray exam of breasts). Don’t panic, though! Eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous.

If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer you have a higher risk, so make sure you have a baseline mammogram at least five years before the age of breast cancer onset in any relatives.

It might be a little uncomfortable or unusual, but breast cancer is life threatening and not something to be ignored.

No one will ever know your breasts better than you, so protect them.

Source: National Breast Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society

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