October is here, which means it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! While heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, breast cancer is a major problem as well. In fact, more women are diagnosed with breast cancer than any other form of cancer. This year, it is estimated that 330,930 women in America will be diagnosed with different forms of breast cancer. On top of this staggering estimation, approximately 2,670 men in the United States will also be diagnosed with breast cancer. While breast cancer is often treatable, sadly it is estimated that 42,260 people in the US (41,760 women and 500 men) will die from breast cancer in 2019. This is heartbreaking given the fact that we are living in an age where we have a plethora of treatments and knowledge available. We need to work hard as a society to make sure ourselves, friends, and families are doing what is necessary to prevent and detect early signs of breast cancer.
Early Detection: Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women feeling a lump in their chest during a self-exam. This simply demonstrates how important regular self-exams are for catching breast cancer in its earliest stages, making it all the more treatable. If you don’t perform a self-exam monthly, ladies, now is a better time than ever to start! Here are some tips for getting it done:
Set a monthly reminder on your phone. Consistency is key. Get into a rhythm of checking yourself by creating an indefinitely repeating monthly alarm. This little reminder will help you add examining your chest into your self-care routine.
Get to know your *assets*. Breast, chest, boobs, ta-tas… whatever you want to call them, get to know them- they’re yours! A major key to being aware when an unusual lump forms is being familiar with how your chest feels at its healthy, normal state. Did I just tell you to start touching yourself more? Yes… yes, I did.
Look in the mirror. Don’t be shy. This is your body and you want to know it inside and out. Get used to looking at yourself in the mirror topless (you too, guys. This is for everyone!). Start with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms above your head and inspect your breasts for any alarming changes. This can look like swelling, changes in the nipples, or unusual dimpling. Finally, bring your hands to your hips and flex your chest muscles. Observe for any unusual changes, especially those that happen on only one side of your chest.
Exam your breasts in the shower. Each month, get under the shower and use the water as a tool to increase glide as you self-exam. Use the pads of your fingers and move from the outside (armpit area) to the inside of your breasts with a circular motion. Look for lumps, thickening, and/or knots.
Self-exam while lying down. Lying down on your back, place a pillow underneath your right shoulder and bring your right arm behind your head. Use your left hand to gently touch your right breast in small circlular motions over the whole breast, including the armpit area. change up pressure, using light, medium, and firm. Squeeze the nipple and check for any discharge or lumps. Next, repeat this step on the left side.
Reach out to your healthcare provider. If you do happen to notice anything unusual, don’t hesitate to contact your physician to assess your concerns! Early detection is key for catching and treating breast cancer.
Keeping in mind that you should begin self examining your breasts monthly as early as possible in life, women ages 45-54 are recommended to get a mammogram annually, while women ages 55 and over should continue to receive mammograms every 1-2 years.
Prevent breast cancer with these cancer-fighting foods. Hopkins Medical suggests eating many whole food, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Eat plenty of foods rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals, such as:
And the list goes on, of course! Click here for the full list, provided by Hopkins Medicine.
Let’s make it a great week, Crush community!