It is never too early to learn about breast health and the early detection of breast cancer.
The main risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and increasing age. Eighty per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have NO family history or other identifiable risk factors for the disease. However, the number of women dying from breast cancer is decreasing, because of better treatment and early detection.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation identifies five steps to being breast aware:
- Know how your breasts normally look and feel.
- Know what changes to look for – changes in shape or size of one or both breasts; unusual, persistent pain in the breast or armpit area; swelling under the armpit or below the collarbone; nipple changes, including change in the shape or position of a nipple, or a nipple that becomes pulled inward (inverted).
- Look and feel for changes. One way to check both breasts is by moving your middle fingers in small circles from the outside of the breast to the nipple. Cover the surface of each breast, and check the areas above and below the breasts, including the armpit. Remember that most changes are not cancerous. It is normal for your breasts to be lumpy and tender before, during and right after your period.
- Report any changes to a health-care provider.
- Go for a mammogram if recommended by a health-care provider. By finding breast abnormalities in the early stages, mammograms can save lives. It is recommended that women between the ages of 50 and 69 have a mammography done every 2 years. However, women between the ages of 30-69 who are identified as high risk for breast cancer may be screened through the Ontario Breast Screening Program.
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (online) 2016.