Breast Cancer Awareness Month Cont'd (2)

Friday, October 11, 2013

"There can be life after breast cancer. The prerequisite is early detection." - Ann Jillian

As most of you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. In honor of that, I've decided to dedicate every Thankful Thursday post to raising awareness about breast cancer by doing some research and educating myself and then relaying that information to you guys! You can read my previous post here, where I talked about what breast cancer is and some general statistics. Today I'll be covering how to detect it. All my information will come from the Susan G. Komen for the cure website ( unless otherwise specified by an 'x'.  

As mentioned in today's quote, early detection is one of the best ways to prevent or be able to survive breast cancer. There are thousands of ways to detect breast cancer but today I'll be covering two: Mammograms and Self-Examination. For a complete list of detection methods click here.

Breast cancer screening is not recommended for men because they have much less breast tissue compared to women. It is only recommended for men who are at higher risk due to an inherited gene mutation or a strong family history. For more information click here.

According to the Susan G. Komen for the cure website, mammography is "a screening tool that uses x-rays to create images of the breast." These images are called mammograms and are used to find early signs of breast cancer by looking for "a dense mass or clusters of calcium." 

"Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer used today. It can find cancers at an early stage, when they are small (too small to be felt) and the chances of survival are the highest."

So what do you do to get a mammogram? First choose a certified mammography center. You can get a referral from a doctor or you can check the FDA (Food and Drug Association) website ( for a list of certified centers near you.

Next you want to pick a good time to get your test done. The Susan G. Komen site recommends that you should plan to have it a week after your period so your breasts aren't as sensitive.

The next step is to get all your information. When you make your appointment they will ask you a variety of questions including: personal and family history of breast cancer, current breast problems, past breast surgery, the date(s) of your past mammogram(s), and the name and address of your doctor and any center where you've had a mammogram before. When you actually go to your appointment be sure to ask when you will be getting your results and when you should come back for your next exam.

When your appointment day arrives you should go prepared. Before the screening you'll have to undress from the waist up so wear an easily removable shirt. Also, don't use any deodorants, antiperspirants, perfumes, powders or lotions on your breasts or underarm areas because some of the ingredients in the products can show up on the mammogram and make it harder to read. Additionally, if you have previously had a mammogram from a different center be sure to take your previous mammograms with you. The exam takes about 15 minutes and during the procedure each breast is pressed between two plates and an x-ray image is made. The pressure can be a bit uncomfortable but it only lasts a few seconds. However, if you feel any discomfort be sure to let your doctor know.

After the screening is done, it can take up to two weeks to get your results back. If you don't receive your results within two weeks, make sure you call your doctor. The last step is to talk to your doctor about your results. (x)

Although mammograms are very helpful, women should start getting a CBE (clinical breast exam) at least every three years when they hit the age of 20, and every year after they hit 40 years old. A CBE is a physical exam done to "check the look and feel of the breasts and underarms for any changes, such as lumps."

Breast Self-Exams, or BSE, are not recommended as a screening tool for breast cancer but it is important to become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel.

The warning signs for breast cancer are different for everyone but if you experience any of these changes be sure to speak to your doctor:

All images courtesy of Susan G. Komen for the cure website (x)
If you do notice any of these changes, don't panic too much. In most cases, these changes are not cancer but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.

For example, many women find that their breasts feel lumpy. This is because breast tissue naturally has a bumpy texture. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels like your other breast, then it is probably normal breast tissue. However, you should see your doctor if you: find a new lump or any change that feels different from the rest of your breast, find a new lump or any change that feels different from your other breast, or feel something that is different from what you felt before.

Also, although nipple discharge, or liquid leaking from your nipple, can be disturbing it is rarely a sign of cancer. The discharge can be your body's natural reaction when the nipple is squeezed. However, you should see your doctor if discharge: occurs without squeezing the nipple, occurs in only one breast, or is blood or clear (not milky.) 

The most important thing to remember is that if you feel like ANYTHING is, or feels, different you should see your doctor. I know it may seem tedious or crazy, but if it does end up being something it's better to be safe than sorry. I don't want to scare you guys or make you overly-conscious. I'm just trying to stress that early detection is essential for any chance of survival. So whether you notice something, or you decide to get a mammogram or clinical breast exam, just know that that decision can mean the difference between your death and your survival. So take this month if not any other time to help raise awareness with others around you and get yourself educated as well!

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  1. I wish Breast Cancer Awareness Month not only as a celebration. But hopefully it reflects our concerns and worries about breast cancer that will lead us to be more serious in practicing a healthy lifestyle.

    1. I hope people see it that way too! (:

      Lots of Love,