Breast Cancer Awareness
Important breast self-exam guidelines to follow
In addition to scheduling clinical screenings
and mammograms, women should
routinely examine and massage their
breasts to detect any abnormalities. These
breast self-exams can be an important part
of early breast cancer detection.
Although many women are aware that
they should become familiar with their
bodies, many are unsure about just how
frequently they should conduct breast
examinations. Experts at Johns Hopkins
Medical center advise adult women of all
ages to perform self-examinations at least
once a month.
That’s because 40 percent of diagnosed
breast cancers are fi rst detected by women
who feel a lump. Establishing a regular
breast self-exam schedule is very important.
Begin by looking at the breasts in a mirror.
Note the size and appearance of the
breasts, and pay attention to any changes
that are normal parts of hormonal changes
associated with menstruation. Breasts
should be evenly shaped without distortion
Changes that should cause concern
include dimpling, puckering, or bulging of
the skin. Inverted nipples or nipples that
have changed position, as well as any rash
or redness, should be noted. In addition,
the same examination should be done with
arms raised over the head.
The breasts should be felt while both
lying down and standing up. Use the right
hand to manipulate the left breast and vice
Use a fi rm touch with the fi rst few fi ngers
of the hand. Cover the entire breast in
circular motions. The pattern taken doesn’t
matter so long as it covers the entire breast.
All tissue, from the front to the back of the
breast, should be felt.
The same pattern and procedure should
be conducted while standing up. Many
women fi nd this easiest to do while in the
It is important not to panic if something
is detected. Not every lump is breast cancer.
And bumps may actually be normal
parts of the breast, as certain areas can
feel different than others. But bring any
concerns to the attention of your doctor.
Breast self-exams are a healthy habit
to adopt. When used in conjunction with
regular medical care and mammography,
self-exams can be yet another tool in helping
to detect breast abnormalities.
Doctors and nurses will use similar
breast examination techniques during
Women should routinely examine and massage their breasts to detect any
The risks between menopause and breast cancer
Menopause occurs when a woman’s
reproductive cycle is over and she
can no longer produce offspring.
For many women, menopause occurs
around age 50.
While menopause itself is not a risk for
breast or other cancers, it’s important to
know that some symptom treatments and
other factors can increase the risk for cancer
among menopausal women.
The North American Menopause Society
says that a woman going through
perimenopause and menopause may
experience various symptoms, which can
range from hair loss to food cravings to
hot fl ashes to vaginal dryness. The National
Institutes of Health indicates some women
undergo combined hormone therapy, also
called hormone replacement therapy to
help relieve menopausal symptoms such as
hot fl ashes and osteoporosis. This therapy
replaces estrogen and progestin, which diminish
in a woman’s body after menopause
sets in. However, NIH’s Women’s Health
Initiative Study has found that women
undergoing this therapy have a higher risk
of breast cancer, among other conditions.
WebMD says evidence suggests that
the longer a woman is exposed to female
hormones, whether it’s those made by the
body, taken as a drug, or delivered by a
patch, the more likely she is to develop
breast cancer. That means that hormone
replacement therapy can increase breast
cancer risk and also indicates that the
longer a woman remains fertile the greater
her risk for certain cancers. Women who
began menstruating before age 12 or entered
menopause after age 55 will have had
many ovulations. This increases the risk of
uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers, states
the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
It also may impact a woman’s chances of
developing endometrial cancer.
Gaining weight after menopause can also
increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer,
states the MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight or
even losing a little weight can be benefi cial.
Women who enter menopause are not
necessarily at a higher risk for breast cancer,
but some factors tied to menopause can
play a role. Women who want to lower their
risk for various cancers are urged to eat
healthy diets, quit smoking and maintain
healthy body weights.
Menopause itself is not a risk for breast or other cancers, but it’s important to
know that some symptom treatments and other factors can increase the risk
for cancer among menopausal women.
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