Simply being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for breast cancer. But learning how to care for your breasts and identify changes or symptoms that are linked to breast cancer can help ensure your breast health and increase your likelihood of early detection.
One of the best ways to maintain breast health is by having a regular physical exam that includes a clinical breast exam (CBE). Women in their 20s and 30s should have a CBE as part of a regular health exam by a health professional, at least every three years. While in the office, women should ask their doctor to show them how to perform a proper self-exam to refresh their skill set and confirm that they are performing theirs correctly.
Performing regular self-exams can help you identify breast lumps, changes in the shape, size, symmetry and contour of your breasts or find skin changes such as discoloration, dimpling, puckering or scaling or abnormalities in your nipples.
The American College of Radiology recommends that healthy woman without a history of cancer in their family have a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. Advanced breast exam technology such as digital mammography takes much clearer, more detailed, pictures of the inside of the breast and surrounding tissue. This helps physicians better detect small calcifications, lumps, masses, and other abnormalities often before there are outward signs of breast cancer that you can see or feel.
After age 40, women are advised to have a mammogram and breast exam every year. Women with certain risk factors, such as a mother who had breast cancer before menopause, may need to start having mammograms at an earlier age. Your doctor can advise you if you need to start having mammograms at an earlier age.
Getting regular check-ups and breast exams are just a few ways women can lower their risk levels and maintain breast health for life.
Women's Health Center
1420 Vernon Road
LaGrange, GA 30240