Breast Cancer Awareness: Detecting the Early Signs

breast cancer ribbonDuring October of each year women across the country are reminded to be aware of a deadly disease that has affected so many — breast cancer. It seems that everyone at least knows somebody or has heard of somebody who has battled with breast cancer. My personal experience is a little closer to home. Both of my grandmothers were diagnosed with breast cancer. My paternal grandma survived, but my maternal grandma lost her battle. With this strong history in my family I have a heightened awareness of my body and the early signs of this disease. I believe that awareness can help stop breast cancer at an early stage.

According to preventcancer.org, an estimated 226,870 women and 2,190 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year.

Here is what you can do to stay aware:

1. Screening

The goal is to detect breast cancer before the symptoms occur. The size and how far the cancer has spread helps predict the prognosis. Women 40 years or older should have a mammogram every year. You can find a local low cost screening locations at apps.nccd.cdc.gov.

2. Search for Symptoms

You know how your breasts normally look and feel. A new lump or mass, swelling of the breast, skin irritation, breast or nipple pain or nipple discharge can be signs of breast cancer. Learn how to properly search for a lump or mass at cancer.org.

3. Checkups

Although it is tempting to skip it, schedule consistent checkups with your health care provider each year. Your doctor is the perfect person to help you screen for breast cancer and suggest healthy, preventive measures.

4. Genetic Testing

If you have a family history of breast cancer like I do, you can consider genetic testing. Testing can be informative about your potential risks and options for prevention. You can learn more at cancer.gov.