When it comes to Breast Cancer Awareness, it’s crucial to educate women about the importance of regular breast exams. Breast cancer is typically detected during yearly breast screenings or monthly self-exams. While there’s no known cure for breast cancer, early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, at least 40% of breast cancer cases are detected by women performing self-examinations at home.

Clinical Exams and Mammograms

Doctors recommend that all women over the age of 40 receive yearly mammograms. Yearly mammograms allow doctors to monitor the breast tissue, keep records, and compare screenings to detect changes in breast material before a lump forms. Mammograms find both benign and malignant lumps in the breast tissue, and detect 85-90% of all breast cancers. Mammograms also increase early detection of breast cancer, which increases the survival rate to 95% over a five year span. Women between the ages of 20 and 30 do not need to have yearly mammograms, but it’s recommended that they receive clinical breast exams during their yearly physicals.

Breast Self-Exam

breast self-examAlthough mammograms are important for breast health, two-fifths of breast cancer cases are detected by women performing breast examinations. Breast self-exams are recommended for all women, regardless of age. Self-exams are easily performed in the shower, lying down, or in front of a mirror. Feel your breasts for:

  • Lumps or swelling
  • Hardness or thickness
  • Changes in the feeling or appearance of breast tissue
  • Dimpled skin

Perform your monthly exam at the same time during your menstrual cycle (typically several days after finishing your period) to avoid inconsistent breast tenderness or swelling. To learn how to perform an effective home examination, read a step by step guide on breast self-exams and general breast health.

To learn more about breast health, breast cancer treatment, and breast reconstruction, call Jim N. Brantner MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Johnson City, TN.

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