October is a month that is known for pumpkin picking, hayrides and beautiful fall foliage.
The month is also synonymous with breast cancer awareness and features walks, fundraisers and nationwide comradery to raise awareness, as well as funds, to beat the disease.
This cause is as important as ever, with approximately 1 in 8 women in the United States developing invasive breast cancer during her lifetime.
“With this number in mind, we can see that it is imperative for all women to know their personal risk for breast cancer, to get all recommended screenings, and to recognize the signs of breast cancer.”
“Early detection can make all the difference in patient outcomes,” explains Laura Klein, M.D., Medical Director, The Valley Hospital Breast Center.
Know Your Risk
Ask yourself the following questions regarding your breast cancer risk:
Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
Do you have a personal history of breast cancer?
Do you have history of breast atypia (abnormal breast tissue)?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, please make sure to discuss your risk factors with your physician.
Get Your Mammograms
“All women should make a commitment to themselves to go for all recommended breast cancer screenings, which are also referred to as mammograms,” adds Dr. Klein. “Early detection can save your life!”
Ensure that you have a clinical breast exam yearly from age 20 to 40
Begin scheduling annual mammograms and clinical breast exams at age 40
Work with your physician to plan additional breast cancer screenings if your mammogram shows dense tissue or you are high risk for developing breast cancer
Know What is Normal for YOU!
To recognize when something might be wrong, you must familiarize yourself with what is normal for you and your body.
By understanding your baseline, you will be better prepared to recognize potential symptoms of breast cancer such as:
Lumps, thickening or knots in the breast or underarm
Breast swelling, warmth, redness or color changes
Change in breast size or shape
Dimpling or puckering of the breast tissue
Development of an itchy, scaly rash
Persistent pain in a new spot on the breast
If you have any concerns about your breast health, contact your physician as soon as possible.