When thinking about the people in life that we love the most; that we try hardest to protect and that we'd be lost without, we tend to think of the women in our lives. It is our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, daughters and other special women that we feel the most protective over. Unfortunately, they are also the people most likely to be diagnosed withe breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Luckily, breast cancer does not have to be a life sentence. Detecting it early equals a greater chance of survival. Cancer in the breast can be detected by self breast exams (SBE), clinical breast exams (CBE) and mammograms. Taking the time to learn about breast cancer and informing others can help save a life of the people we love.
Self breast exams should be done monthly after the woman's menstrual cycle. There are several steps to performing a SBE. First, without a shirt or bra on, a woman should examine her breasts in the mirror looking for warning signals such as lumps, dimpling, discharge or any other sudden changes in the appearance of the breast. Continue looking at the breasts with both arms above the head. Second, lying down with the right arm overhead, use the three middle fingers of the left hand to feel around the right breast. Starting at the nipple and moving outward, make circular motions around the breast using light pressure, then medium pressure and hard pressure. Next, using the same fingers, feel the breast in lines going up and down the breast from the nipple. Switch the arm and the hand and redo the steps on the left breast. Although doing SBE's is not the recommended method for finding breast cancer, it is highly important in helping women know what is normal for their breast and their body while helping to spot any changes.
To assist in early detection, women over 20 are also encouraged to get clinical breast exams (CBE) by their doctor every three years and every year after age 40. The process of a CBE is much like that of a SBE only it is done by a trained medical professional.
While self breast exams and clinical breast exams are important factors in detecting breast cancer, the most effective tool is a mammogram. Mammograms are recommended yearly for women over 40.
The best detection method is to use all three of this exams together as recommended.
While early detection is helpful to survive breast cancer, there are also steps that can be taken to prevent it. A person can help to prevent breast cancer by limiting alcohol consumption to 1 drink a day, exercising regularly, knowing their body and knowing their family history.