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Albright College

TIP OF THE MONTH
October

YOU AND YOUR BREASTS

October is national breast cancer awareness month.  If you have breast tissue, you are at risk for developing breast cancer, this includes men and women.  Did you know that 1800 men develop breast cancer annually?  You will be seeing a lot of pink this month.  We are having a “Pink” day on campus in our support of breast cancer.   There is cancer awareness at sporting events, on television commercials, billboards, magazines and even yogurt containers.  Awareness and early detection is key.

Mammograms are extremely important; they can often detect disease in its earliest stages.

Mammographies are done using an X-ray machine with special film indicated specifically for breast tissue.  The technicians, usually female, will place your breast between two supports which will then flatten the breast.  This technique provides a clear picture of the breast tissue using a low dose of radiation.  The exam is usually very quick.

Mammograms are often uncomfortable or slightly painful but only last a couple of seconds.  It is recommended that you schedule your mammogram 7 to 10 days after your menstrual cycle when your breasts will be less tender.

The American Cancer Society reports that only 1 or 2 mammograms out of every 1,000 lead to the diagnosis of cancer.  Approximately 10% of women will require additional diagnostic mammography.  Only 8% - 10% of those women will need a biopsy, and 80% of those biopsies will be benign (non cancerous).

As we age, our chance of developing breast cancer increases; that is why yearly mammograms over the age of 40 and baseline mammograms between the ages of 35-40 are so important.  Mammograms are not usually indicated in younger women because their breasts are much more dense.  Monthly self breast exams are extremely important and should be instituted at age 20.

In the shower

Raise one arm.  With fingers flat, and in a circular motion examine every part of each breast, gently feeling for a lump or thickening.  Use your right hand to examine your left breast, your left hand for your right breast.

Lying down

Place a towel or pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand behind your head.  Examine your right breast with your left hand.  Fingers flat, press gently in small circles, starting at the outermost top edge of your breast and spiraling in toward the nipple.  Examine every part of the breast.  Repeat with left breast.  With your arm resting on a firm surface, use the same circular motion to examine the underarm area.  This is breast tissue, too.

This self-exam is not a substitute for periodic examinations by a qualified health care provider.

Have a safe and healthy October; get your clinical breast exam yearly, make sure you do monthly self-breast exams and mammograms if indicated.

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