Steps You Can Do To Detect Breast Cancer
To women, their breasts are more than just a part of their bodies. It is the curve of femininity that first draws her to the knowledge that she is now a woman; and a desirable woman at that. The breast in many ways symbolises a woman more than any other part of the female anatomy. To lose a breast is more than just a physical affliction. It rocks the very seat of her womanhood and can be totally devastating.
However, many of these deaths can be prevented by self-examination, routine clinical examination and mammography. If breast cancer is detected early enough, most of the women will be alive five years later. If detection is late, recovery and survival percentages fall considerably. Several Studies have indicated conclusively that mammography is the most effective and reliable method for early detection of breast cancer. As it is Breast Cancer Month, Boldsky has come up with ways to prevent this disease and spread its awareness.
Prevention is Better than Cure:
Breast cancer develops slowly. In general, they take 6 to 8 years to reach a size of 1 cm. The smaller and more localised the tumour, the greater the chances of a full recovery. Breast cancer that is treated sufficiently early, before it affects the axillary lymph nodes, has high chances of cure.
However, many women are reluctant to undergo mammography and so they invent excuses to avoid being examined or keep postponing it. While the suggested age for an initial, reference mammogram is 40 years, it is recommended that you consider getting one done in your 30’s if there is:
- A family history of breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Cancer of ovary
- Pregnancy after 30 years of age
You should also be aware that women who have never had children should be doubly vigilant as they are more liable to get breast cancer. Self-examination carried out regularly will allow you to be familiar with the normal appearance of your breasts, and will make you conscious of any changes over a period of time. (Self- examination should generally be started at 20 years of age).
Self-examination for breast cancer:
Examine your breasts in the shower or the bath: Hands move more easily over wet skin. With your lingers stretched, move the palm of your hand over the whole surface of your breasts. Look out for any unusual lumps, nodules or thickening.
In front of the mirror: Examine your breasts with your arms alongside your body. Then raise your arms above your head. Look for any changes in the shape of your breasts, for swellings or depressions in the skin, or changes in the nipples.
Lying down: To examine your right breast, place a pillow or a folded towel underneath. First, follow the outermost circle, then start palpating the imaginary clock dial at the twelve o’clock location, slide your fingers to one o’clock, and so on. The presence of firmer tissue in the lower part of the breast is quite normal. To start following a new concentric circle, move your fingers about 2 cm towards your nipple, and examine the whole of your breast, including the nipple. In order to palpate the entire breast, you have to make about five circles.
Repeat this procedure for the left breast by placing a pillow under your left shoulder and your left hand behind your head.
Finally press the nipple gently between your thumb and index finger. If there is any discharge, you should see your doctor immediately.
Why should I examine my breasts every month?
Breast cancer is most often discovered by women themselves. When detected early and treated with minimum delay, it is usually curable by means of a minor operation.
When should I carry out self-examination?
Carry out self-examination once a month, a week or so after your period, when your breasts are not sensitive or swollen. After menopause, palpate your breasts on the first day of the month.
Why do I need a Mammogram?
Regular breast self-examination may help detect a tumour very early. But only a mammogram can provide an accurate reading of breast health. Mammography can detect a number of abnormalities including cysts, masses and calcification. All women over 40 should go for an annual screening mammogram.
Having mammograms regularly will enable checks to be made for abnormal breast tissue, and ensure that no suspect lumps can develop. This is one method of detecting tiny tumours that clinical examination can’t detect.
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