October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and our clinic in Irving is doing its part to raise awareness on this terrible disease. Breast cancer will affect nearly 1 in 8 women in their lifetimes. Each year, doctors diagnose nearly 250,000 cases of breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death in women. Regular breast examinations can go a long way in helping to detect breast cancer early so that doctors can provide you with the best treatments.
Women should also schedule regular appointments with our Irving doctors. On top of simply checking your overall health, doctors will ask you questions and look for any indicators of cancer as well as other common diseases. A great tip for women and men alike is to schedule a doctor’s appointment for the same day near your birthday. That way, you never forget to see the doctor and you can go through the year feeling confident about your long-term health.
Women can conduct breast cancer self-examinations at home. Breast examinations should be conducted in two ways: by look and feel.
Look: using a mirror, inspect the breast for odd colorings, visible lumps, pulls, or dents. You should examine your breasts from a few different angles. Lean forward, put your arms on your hips, stand upright, and stand with both arms above your head. If you are uncertain exactly what you are looking for, you can compare one breast to the other, as they should look similar.
Feel: most women tend to conduct this part of the exam in the shower, as the water helps fingers move easily across the skin. Women should try to feel for any lumps, pain, or tenderness. When feeling for abnormalities, use the pads of the fingers and not the tips. Women should also try to feel their breasts in a few different angles, and check different parts of the breasts.
A few other things to remember: any abnormality of the nipple should be cause to see a doctor; because there is not much tissue underneath the nipple, a lump there should be cause for concern. Discharge of the nipples may also be cause for concern; however, consult with your doctor, as this is not always a sign of cancer. When in doubt, always talk to your doctor. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cancer.
Women should conduct a self-examination every month. However, self-examination is not a substitute for a mammogram. Women should still regularly see their doctor for a mammogram, as this procedure offers much more certainty.