THREE STEPS TO BREAST HEALTH

1. Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Look for Changes

Changes in the way your breasts look may reveal a lump that cannot be felt. A hidden lump could cause a dimpling of the breast or, in some cases, a puckered nipple. A rusty-colored or puslike discharge from the nipple may indicate a blocked duct or other problem.

Look for changes in your breasts while holding your arms at your side. Then, raise your arms above your head, clasp your hands behind your neck, and check again.
Press your hands on your hips to flex your chest muscles. Look for changes in the appearance of your breasts.
Squeeze your nipple between your thumb and forefinger to check for discharge. (A drop or two of clear or whitish fluid is normal.)

Feel For Changes

To recognize changes in the way your breasts feel, do a thorough breast self-exam (BSE) at the same time each month. Once you know how your breasts feel normally, you can detect even minor changes. Perform BSE while lying down or while showering. (Hands glide easily over wet, soapy skin.)

Lie down and place a pillow under the shoulder of the breast you're examining. Keep the arm on that side raised as shown.
Mentally divide the breast area into strips or circles. The area should include your collar bone to your bra line and your breast bone to your underarm.
Feel with the sensitive pads of your three middle fingers held flat.
Use small circular motions to cover each area of the strip or circle. Go over each area three times using varying degrees of pressure as shown.
1) Use light pressure to feel for changes below the skin.
2) Use deeper pressure to feel for changes in breast tissue.

2. Professional Breast Exams
Contact your doctor immediately if you note any changes in your breasts. In addition, professional exams are recommended at least every 1-3 years for women between the ages 20 and 40, and annually thereafter. Ask your doctor or nurse any questions you may have about breast health or self-examination techniques.

3. Mammography
Mammography is a safe, low-dose x-ray technique that creates images of the inside of the breast. Mammography can detect lumps before they can be felt, so it is a particularly valuable screening procedure. Have a screening mammogram by age 40. From age 40 to 49, have one every 1-2 years, then annually from age 50 on.

About Risk Factors
We don't know what causes breast cancer, but some factors may be linked with a higher risk of developing it. If you're over 40 or have a history of breast cancer in your family (such as breast cancer in your mother or sister), you may be at greater risk. Being at risk does not mean you will develoop breast cancer. The purpose of knowing your risk factors is to help devise a breast health program suited to your individual needs. Although breast cancer may not be prevented, early detection is the best means possible for ensuring prompt, successful treatment and, in many cases, total cure.



Graphics and Text from Krames Communications brochures