“Early detection saves lives.” Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosis for women. When breast cancer is found early, there tend to be more treatment options available and provide a better chance of survival. The question many have is how to detect cancer early. There are a few options for early detection that can help save your life or the life of someone you know.
1. Breast Self-Exam
Once monthly, adult women should perform a breast self-examination. The goal is to not only check for lumps but to become familiar with the feel and look of your breasts in case of changes. Self-exams can be performed three different ways:
- Front of the mirror:
Standing in front of a mirror, view your breasts by placing your arms at your sides. Then, with your hands raised over your head, inspect your breasts for any changes to your nipples. Third, place the palms of your hands on your breast and flexing your chest muscles with a firm press.
- In the shower
While in the shower, use the pads of your fingers and circulate them around your whole breast and armpit. The pattern should start outside and move to the center.
- Laying down
When you are laying down, the tissues in your breast are evenly spread. Once you’re positioned, place your right arm behind your head and a pillow under your right shoulder. Then move the fingers from your left hand around your right breast.
2. Clinical Breast Exam
Adult women should have a clinical breast exam done at least once per year after 40 and between one and three years during their 20s and 30s. During a clinical breast exam, the doctor can determine if there is a lump or other changes in your breast that could need additional testing. A clinical breast exam is performed by a doctor or nurse. Once your shirt and bra are removed, the doctor or nurse will first look at the texture, shape and size of your breasts. They will then feel around your breast using their fingertips to check for abnormalities or lumps. The check will include your armpits and nipples.
Mammograms are recommended for women over 40 years old or those that have a special circumstance that requires a mammogram earlier. Mammograms are a key factor in early detection of breast cancer. It is used for diagnostics and screening purposes. Your age and cancer risk determine how often you should get a mammogram.