Breast cancer diagnoses and deaths in women age 50 and older have been declining since the '90s and one of the main practices attributed with this change is the monthly home self exam.
While the guidelines for screenings conducted by your doctor may have changed and a self exam certainly doesn't replace these more advanced tests, performing a monthly check of the breast tissue (including the nipple) and the lymph nodes can still help you catch signs and symptoms that may be related to breast cancer, possibly improving your chances for a full recovery if you are diagnosed. This monthly step is crucial for all women beginning at age 20.
You know your body best, which means you’re able pick up on the signs it presents when something might be wrong. Make sure to perform your monthly check just before and just after your period if you’re menstruating and once a month if you’re menopausal or post menopausal.
To help you stay on top of it, we’ve created a handy one-sheet, which you can print HERE. Hang it on your bathroom mirror or inside your medicine cabinet — anywhere you’ll see it regularly to remind you to check yourself for any changes like lumps, sensitivity or changes in color. Nipple discharge is another potential symptom. If you notice anything, make sure to get it checked out as soon as possible. We've also included the recommended ages for all your most important health screenings.
October may be coming to an end, but breast health needs to be a year-round commitment. This year, an estimated 220,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and sadly, another 40,000 women will lose their battle with this disease.
Knowledge is power. Know the signs and spread the word. We’re all in this together.