Breast cancer awareness goes hand in hand with breast health, and they’re both causes we support year-round here at Leading Lady. We join the world in advancing breast cancer awareness in the month of October, but we also strive to educate women on breast health on an ongoing basis. Breast health not only includes supporting your breasts with comfortable, properly fitting bras, but it also means knowing the signs of breast cancer and performing self breast exams for early detection.
Johns Hopkins Medical Center reports that 40% of breast cancer diagnoses in women are first detected by those who feel lumps or detect other abnormalities through a self-exam. That is nearly half of breast cancer cases! There is no cure for cancer yet, but discovering breast cancer early is an important factor in treating the disease successfully. And although there are not hard and fast preventative measures, women have the power to detect breast cancer early, which in many cases will save lives.
The first step in breast cancer awareness is knowing what is normal for your own body so you can detect potential signs. Breast cancer can present in the following ways: as a lump or knot in the breast or armpit; any abnormal discharge; discoloration or warmth on or around the breast; size changes or dimpling of the breast or nipple; and flaking of skin on the nipple or breast.
Many of these signs are quite obvious and only require you to look in the mirror or down at your breast while putting on your bra every day. Other signs, such as lumps, require a little more effort. But trust us, it is well worth it. Self breast exams should be performed once a month and should be done in these three ways:
- While in the shower, move your fingertips in a circular pattern across the entire breast and armpit moving from the outside to the center. Here you are feeling for lumps or knots.
- In front of a mirror, inspect your breast while your arms are down and raised. Study your breasts and nipples for puckering or swelling. Repeat while flexing your chest muscles.
- When lying down, repeat the circular pattern across the breast and armpit. Use a variety of pressure to ensure you can detect problem that may be deep into the breast or closer to the surface.
The three methods combined shouldn’t take more than five minutes total. That’s five minutes that could save your life. Mark your calendar or get a buddy to help you remember this important monthly measure.
If you do notice anything unusual, make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Even if you’ve recently seen your doctor or had a mammogram, your self breast exam can reflect signs that have recently presented. Don’t take any chances.
Your breast health is not just important in October, it’s important every month and every day of the year. In addition to your self breast exams, be sure to wear bras that lift and support your breasts, fit properly to reduce bounce, disperse weight over your shoulders and back, and don’t dig into your breasts causing any discomfort.
Join us in supporting breast health and spreading breast cancer awareness by talking to friends and family about the signs of breast cancer and encouraging the women in your life to do self breast exams. We wish you and all women the best breast health.