By Eumena M. Divino, MD, FACOG
Early detection of breast cancer through routine exams saves potentially thousands of lives each year by improving the chance of a cure. The American Cancer Society (ACS) believes there is enough compelling data to indicate that breast self-exam is effective in helping women stay aware of any changes that may be cause for concern. The ACS now recommends a new self-exam technique to improve breast awareness.
The major difference between this new recommendation and the traditional one is that it is done lying down and not standing as was previously instructed. Experts say it is easier to feel breast tissue this way, as it spreads more evenly and is at its thinnest. The more women are familiar with how their breasts feel and appear, the more quickly they can notice changes that would indicate the need for further testing by their doctor.
Changes to look for include:
- A lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchy, scaly sores or rashes on the nipple
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Women should have a breast exam as part of their annual check-up and have regular mammograms. But check yourself every month. If you don’t do a regular breast self-exam, get started now and schedule a mammogram. Pink RibbonTM facilities like The Center for Women at Raritan Bay Medical Center are good places for screening because of their superior imaging capabilities used for the earliest breast cancer detection.
Dr. Divino is part of Bay Obstetrics and Gynecology, affiliated with Raritan Bay Medical Center. The Bay physicians are all board certified and provide comprehensive healthcare for women of all ages. Office locations include 740 Route 1 North, Iselin, NJ and 2045 Highway 35 South, South Amboy, NJ. To schedule an appointment, call 732-316-4951.
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