Being vigilant about your health and wellness can ensure that you have a long and happy life, and part of a woman’s overall wellness includes monthly self-breast exams and yearly screenings.
Breast exams are so important because, “most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests” (American Cancer Society).
So what should be a part of your breast exam routine?
1. A breast self-exam should be done once a month. It is best to pick the same day each month, whether it is right after your menstrual cycle or before, just keep it consistent. Many women have tender breasts during their menstrual cycle so try to avoid breast self-exams during that time. This makes it easier to measure changes and take notice of any possible symptoms. Massage each breast in a circular motion both while standing and laying down.
What to look for:
- new, hard, or painful lumps.
- dimpling in the skin
- a rash or skin irritation in a large area, especially over the nipple
- nipple discharge
If you notice these symptoms it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. The presence of one or more of these symptoms may be caused by other infections or disease other than cancer, but it is important to follow-up with a doctor.
2. Yearly screenings with a healthcare provider can detect cancer before symptoms are present. A mammogram is an x-ray imaging system used to check for lumps or cancerous tissue in the breast. If it is your first time going for a mammogram be sure to have a frank conversation with your doctor and go over any concerns or questions you may have.
Be confident in knowing that you are taking the necessary steps to live a healthy life. Taking ten minutes every month for a breast self-exam can make sure you look your best in that skimpy pink or sexy red bra hanging in your closet.
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