Practice breast 'self-awareness' to better detect breast cancer

Practice breast 'self-awareness' to better detect breast cancer
There are updated recommendations for when, and how often, to get mammograms. (Source: WALB)
Dorothy Dickey, R.N., Phoebe Carlton Breast Health Center. (Source: WALB)
Dorothy Dickey, R.N., Phoebe Carlton Breast Health Center. (Source: WALB)

It's Breast Cancer Awareness month and breast health specialists say focusing on the "awareness" part is critical.

Screening for breast cancer can help detect it earlier.

The CDC recommends women age 50 to 74 get mammograms every two years.

Younger women between the ages of 40 to 49 should consult with their doctors to determine how often to get mammograms.

But, what women do at home also helps detect breast cancer, more than a single, monthly self-breast exam.

"What it has gone to is more of a breast self awareness. And, it is really easy to do when you are in the shower especially because your skin is slick, you have soap, and you can run your fingers easily over your breasts and see if there are any differences," said Phoebe Carlton Breast Health Center's Breast Health Navigator, Dorothy Dickey, R.N.

Dickey said if you notice any changes in your breast, talk to your health care provider.

She said it doesn't have to be a lump, it can be very slight changes.

According to the Southwest Georgia Public Health District, some warning signs for breast cancer include:

  • A new lump in the breast or underarm
  • Thickening or swelling of a part of the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast.

But, it's important to note that sometimes there are no warning signs.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States.

For more information about how to lower your risk for breast cancer, visit the CDC's website. 

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