Velocity Care explains the importance of self-checks
October is known for Halloween, ghouls and scary stories. Well, what’s scarier than breast cancer? Work to overcome those fears because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, one in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. While this scary disease is rather common, it’s still unpredictable. Even though doctors are able to explain to some women how their cancer developed, many other women diagnosed with the disease may never know.
Since this disease is so tricky and hard to predict, no one should ever wait to discover breast cancer. The educated observer can detect breast cancer sooner rather than later and, whether it’s at the doctor’s office or in your own home, there are ways to check.
Why wait until your next doctor’s appointment for a breast exam when you can do it yourself? In fact, women should perform breast self-exams at least once a month. To maintain consistency, try to perform the exam around the same time each month – a good time is right as you finish your menstrual cycle so you can note any changes from month to month. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who performed a self exam and felt a lump. Clearly, it is important to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel.
Here are three ways to perform a breast self-exam:
During a shower
Use your shower time to check your breasts for any lumps, hardened knots or thickening.
In a circular motion, apply your fingertips around your entire breast starting from the outside and moving toward the middle. Make sure you include the armpit area.
Remember to check both breasts.
Using a mirror
Stand in front of the mirror, lift your arms high above your head and inspect for any swelling, dimpling of the skin or any change in the nipple area.
Do this facing the mirror as well as turned to each side.
This is the most similar to what you will experience during a yearly doctor’s appointment.
While lying down, place a pillow underneath your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head.
In a circular motion, gently press your left hand’s fingertips around the entire breast area and armpit.
Repeat for left breast.
Although breast self-exams are important, you should probably also have a mammogram. If you are 40 or over, you should have mammograms every one to two years. If you are younger than 40, ask your doctor if mammograms are prudent and how often you should have them.
Breast cancer affects men, too
The most common diagnosed cancer in women is breast cancer: More than 220,000 women each year will be diagnosed and more than 40,000 will die. While it is extremely common in women, men can also get breast cancer.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and roughly 410 will die from it in any given year. A man with a breast cancer diagnosis is relatively rare, but that doesn’t mean men shouldn’t be wary of their risk.
Breast cancer is becoming more of an issue each day for both women and men. Examine yourself as soon as possible and do it often. If you find a lump or would like a doctor to check for you, come to Velocity Care, where our physicians will provide the highest quality care with little or no wait time for you. Visit www.velocitycare.com/locations to find the location nearest you.
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