Get to know your body
When it comes to preventing breast cancer, information is power. The more you become familiar with your body, the more you can take charge of your health.
Pay attention to changes
As you get to know your body better, you may find that your breasts change in density and sensitivity at various points throughout your menstrual cycle. Most of the time, changes in your breasts due to hormonal fluctuations are completely normal. If you experience pain, redness, swelling, nipple discharge, orange-peel-like skin, or a hard mass in your breasts, contact your doctor.
Self-exams at home
Examine your breasts for any changes in density, signs of puckering, swelling, changes in color, soreness to the touch, or masses. Ideally, you should perform an at-home breast self-exam at least once per month. Choose a time of the month you can remember, like the first or last day of the month. If you experience tenderness or swelling during your period, wait until several days after your period ends.
Regular checkups with an OBGYN
As part of your overall health, you should visit your gynecologist for a checkup at least once per year. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, becoming aware of your risk factors for breast cancer is particularly important.
Mammograms as scheduled
Women over 40 should have regular mammograms. Discuss your risk factors with your doctor. Together, you can determine how often you should have a mammogram.
Take care of your body
What you put into your body affects your risk for developing breast cancer. Be sure to eat a balanced diet of nutritious foods. If you drink, moderate your alcohol consumption. Studies show that women who drink 3 drinks per week have a 15% higher risk for developing breast cancer than women who do not drink at all. Breast cancer risk also increases for women who have a sedentary lifestyle, so be sure to make time for 30 minutes of exercise 3 times per week.
Breast cancer can occur at any age. The average age of women when they are diagnosed with breast cancer is 59 years. However, about a quarter of women diagnosed with breast cancer are younger than 50 years. The key to surviving breast cancer lies in early detection. Finding breast cancer early means that you have more treatment options. It is important for women to perform monthly self breast exams and your physician should do yearly physical exams.
Schedule an appointment
If you are overdue for a mammogram or other wellness appointment, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you are able. Contact Peoria Women’s Health today!