According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Unfortunately of that population, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than other ethnicities largely due to late detection. With statistics like this, we must be aware of breast cancer and what we can do to minimize our risk as well as detect early.
Here at The Exam Room with Nurse Alice, we had the pleasure of talking to Ananda Lewis, Former BET & MTV Host and Cancer Warrior. Click HERE to see our interview where she shares her journey with battling Stage 3 breast cancer for the last two years.
So how can we ensure our best breast health? We must do our part in mitigating risks and detecting any breast changes early. Let’s discuss the Top 7 Things you can do to be breast cancer aware.
1. Self-breast exam
Lumps or masses in the breast generally start small and grow over time. Therefore, the self-breast exam is often the first sign of any abnormality. Self-Breast exams are still helpful in allowing you to become familiar with your breast. Detecting a lump early that is still small in size is ideal and usually more easily treated. When completing a breast exam, be sure to also check in the under am area as well as for any abnormal breast appearance and/or nipple discharge. Seek immediate medical attention if there are any concerning changes.
2. Know your history
Knowing your family history is critical. If a first-degree relative has breast cancer, the risk is higher and therefore mammograms will be started earlier than recommended for the general population.
3. Live a healthy lifestyle
Maintaining ideal body weight, eating a diet rich in healthy foods, and exercising regularly are the key to staying healthy overall. Though we can’t prevent breast cancer, improving our health can improve our risk factors.
Stress increases our stress hormones like cortisol, which creates an unhealthy inflammatory environment in our body. It is important as busy women that we stop and take the time to care for ourselves so that we can present our best, most healthy self to the world.
5. Listen to your doctor
You should see your doctor at minimum yearly for your regularly scheduled check-up which should include breast exams.
6. Get your mammogram
This is the key. Early detection saves lives. Do not be afraid or be in denial. Though uncomfortable for a moment, it can truly save your life.
7. Consider genetic testing
If you do have a family history, it is important that you talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of genetic testing for you.
Take charge of your breast health and talk to your doctor TODAY about getting your mammogram if you are age 40 and older.