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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, a predicted 230,480 cases of breast cancer will be reported in 2011. While there is no absolute cure for cancer, there are ways to reduce the risk.

Although the most effective way of detecting breast cancer is getting a mammogram, according to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website, there are other detection methods such as self-exams, clinical exams, and MRI’s.

The most well-known sign of breast cancer is a lump in the breast. The American Cancer Society describes the lump as “a painless, hard mass that has irregular edges, but breast cancers can also be tender, soft or rounded.”

This is not the only sign or symptom of cancer. The list also includes swelling of the breast, irritation of the skin, pain in the breast or nipple and discharge from the nipple. A healthy diet rich in antioxidants  and frequent check-ups can diminish your susceptability to breast cancer.

Protect yourself and do the self examination today.

Breast cancer self examinations in five simple steps

Step 1:
It’s important to observe your chest regularly so that you can make a comparison of how it looks normally if something ever seems a little out of place. Begin with a quick scan of your breasts in front of a mirror. Do you notice anything irregular or abnormal in how your breasts look?

Step 2:
Observe your breasts with your arms in different positions.
Lifting your arms above your head allows your pectoral muscles to contract so that you can see if there are any strange dimples in your breasts. If there are, it might mean there is a tumor affecting a ligament. For further inspection, hug your hips with your hands and scan your breasts once more.

Step 3:
Relax your arms and gently use your fingers to create circular motions around your breast. Press in firmly and make an up and down annular motion. Do you notice any lumps or tenderness? Take your time during this process. Be delicate with every part of your breast.

Step 4:
Squeeze your nipples to check for any discharge of blood or puss.

Step 5:
Lie down on your back and place a pillow underneath your shoulder. Use the same circular, firm motions as you did standing up. This is the last position for the self examination. Lying down can cause different muscles to relax so that you can notice any irregularties in your breasts.

If anything seems the least bit strange, make an appointment to consult with your doctor immediately.

For more information, visit the following resources: