October is breast cancer awareness month but we’re challenging all women to be aware of their bodies and schedule regular preventative care appointments year round.
Over a quarter of a million women receive a breast cancer diagnosis in the United States every year.
While Kettering Health Network supports the American College of Radiology’s recommendation that women begin receiving regular screening mammograms at the age of 40, there are steps you can take to ensure breast health prior to celebrating your 40th birthday.
When you attend an annual well-woman visit with a Kettering Health Network affiliated OB/GYN you will complete a family history questionnaire as part of a genetic screening process. The family history questionnaire reveals whether you are at an increased risk for developing a familial or genetic cancer. If an increased risk is present, a physician will likely recommend genetic screening to test for the presence of 28 harmful genes.
Kettering Health Network also recommends all adult women perform a breast self-exam (BSE) at least once a month.
Two Steps to a Breast Self-Exam
Before you get dressed, look at your breasts in the mirror with your arms by your sides. Check that your breasts are their usual size, shape, and color.
Repeat this visual exam while holding your arms upright and over your head. If you see any dimpling, swelling, change in color, or a nipple that has changed position, contact your physician.
Use your right hand to check your left breast and your left hand to check your right breast. Use the flat pads of your fingers with a frim but gentle touch. Move in a pattern that covers the entire breast—from the collarbone to the top of the abdomen and from the armpit to the sternum. Perform this exam both lying down and standing up. If you notice any lumps, bumps, or unusual changes, contact your doctor for further evaluation.
If you are under 40 you can still make a commitment to your health this October. Implement a BSE into your monthly routine and schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN.