Have you noticed the pink scarves, pink socks, pink shirts, and pink coffee mugs in the department stores? It’s a reminder to examine your breasts, make a doctor appointment, and schedule your mammogram. About 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1000 men in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Being proactive in this fight is crucial. There are some guidelines, though…
Breast self-exams should be done monthly.
The best time to do them is about 10 days after the onset of your menstrual cycle. Breasts can be capricious, and they will change texture over the course of the monthly cycle, so sticking to one time of the month is best. If you no longer menstruate, then choose a day of the month and do it that same day from then on.
If your breasts are generally lumpy and you don’t know what is normal and what isn’t, the best strategy is to simply become familiar with them. Become so familiar with each ridge and curve that if something was to change, you’d notice it right away.
Have your doctor examine your breasts.
A lot of women would rather do it themselves, but if you were to find an abnormality, you’ll need your doctor’s help in getting the proper tests done to determine what is wrong. Only your doctor can provide a prescription for a breast sonogram or diagnostic mammogram.
Get a mammogram.
Women over 40 (or mid to late thirties if breast cancer runs in the family because a woman’s risk of breast cancer approximately doubles if she has a first-degree relative who has had breast cancer), and patients with an abnormality in the breast should schedule a mammogram. A few seconds of pressure on each breast is worth it when it helps detect cancer in its earliest stages when it is most easily treated.
Trust your judgment when it comes to your body. Don’t ever feel like you are overreacting if you “think” you feel something in your breast. If it doesn’t feel right, have it checked out. The worst (or best) thing that can happen is that you get checked and it turns out to be nothing.
If you need to schedule a breast examination, call Comprehensive Center for Women’s Medicine at 773.435.1150.