By now you might have noticed the pink ribbons featured throughout our paper this week. Or maybe you saw NFL players with pink wristbands last Sunday. October is National Brest Cancer Awareness month, and The Forum proudly supports the effort to bring awareness to this deadly disease.
With the latest medical technologies, early detection of breast cancer saves thousands of lives each year. The American Cancer Society recommends the following early detection tips:
Mammogram: Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should keep on doing so for as long as they are in good health. While mammograms can miss some cancers, they are still a very good way to detect breast cancer.
Clinical breast exam: Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a regular exam by a health expert at least every three years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health expert every year. It might be a good idea to have the CBE shortly before the mammogram. You can use the exam to learn what your own breasts look and feel like.
Breast self-exam (BSE): BSE is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any changes in how their breasts look or feel to a health expert right away.
Research has shown that BSE plays a small role in finding breast cancer compared with finding a breast lump by chance or simply being aware of what is normal for each woman. If you decide to do BSE, you should have your doctor or nurse check your method to make sure you are doing it right. If you do BSE on a regular basis, you get to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Then you can more easily notice changes. But it’s OK not to do BSE or not to do it on a fixed schedule.
The goal, with or without BSE, is to see a doctor right away if you notice any of these changes: a lump or swelling, skin irritation or dimpling, nipple pain or the nipple turning inward, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin, or a discharge other than breast milk. But remember that most of the time these breast changes are not cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Women at high risk should get an MRI and a mammogram every year (women who are at high risk have at least a 25 percent lifetime risk of breast cancer). Women at moderately increased risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.
Besides being regularly tested, The Forum encourages all readers to make a donation to their favorite cancer charities. Every dollar can make a difference in finding effective treatments for and the eradication of cancer.