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Breast Cancer: Steps to Aid in Early Detection
By Donna Rivera
I learned some interesting facts about breast cancer that I feel every woman should know. The sources I
used for this article included the American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Institute, and the Avon
Foundationís Breast Cancer Crusade.
Early breast cancer isnít usually detected by pain. In fact, when breast cancer first develops, there may
be no symptoms at all. That is why regular exams are important. If you have anything that makes you
suspect breast cancer, contact your doctor immediately. Don't wait around to see what happens. Let the
professional decide. Some symptoms that may indicate breast cancer include, but are not limited to, the
Nipple discharge or tenderness
Lumps in breast and/or underarm area
Visual changes which include: size of breast including swelling; inverted nipple; and pitting. Pitting
means the skin looks like the skin of an orange. Scaling of the breast skin could also be a symptom.
Early detection of breast cancer is important. There is a 97% five-year survival rate when breast cancer
is detected early since this can help prevent it from spreading. Below are some guidelines to early
detection. I hope they help save someone's life.
Get a Mammogram
A mammogram is a specialized x-ray of the breast to help detect cancers which cannot be detected by feel.
Some women are confused as to how often they should get a mammogram. Here is what the professionals say
At age 40 begin getting annual mammograms by a licensed technician. A mammogram will take about twenty
minutes. When getting a mammogram avoid wearing deodorant, powders, or cream under your arms. Sometimes
they can interfere with the results. Make sure to contact the center if they do not inform you of the
results within thirty days. It is very important that results are compared from one year to the next.
Hence, be sure you know where your mammogram film is being held.
Clinical Breast Exam
This is an exam by a health care professional. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast
exam at least every three years and women 40 or older should have an exam each year.
Starting at age 20 women should begin doing a self-exam. Ask your doctor if you are not exactly sure how
to do this or if you are not sure you are doing it correctly. Here are a few guides to follow: Lie down
and place one arm behind your head. Using your three middle finger pads press firmly across your breast
in overlapping dime-size circular motions. Use three different levels of pressure: light, medium, and firm.
This allows you to feel the tissue close to your skin, to feel a little deeper, and to feel the tissue
closest to your chest and ribs.
Move across your breast in an up and down pattern, starting from the underarm and moving across the breast
to the middle of the chest bone, repeating the pressure.
Stand in front of a mirror with your hands pressing down on your hips and look at your breasts for any
changes in size, shape, contour, or dimpling. Also, do this with your arms slightly raised. Make sure
you check under your breasts as well.
I hope that this information proves helpful to you. I am not a health care provider and by no means a
professional on breast cancer. I am simply sharing with every woman possible the importance of detecting
breast cancer early and some simple guidelines that might save a life.
My sources for the above information are:
American Cancer Society The National Cancer Institute Breast Health Resource Guide by the Avon Foundation's
Breast Cancer Crusade
Health Tips for the Modern Woman
Donna has an MBA in Information Technology and is currently a Tupperware Director and CEO of her own company.
She also teaches online Management and Business classes for a local community college as well as computer
classes for a four-year university.
More Breast Cancer Information