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When it comes to breast health, know what's normal for you
May 10, 2011
We all receive conflicting information in the news when it comes to our health. What is good for you one day can be bad for you the next. However, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping keep it simple when it comes to your breast health with breast self-awareness.
"Breast self-awareness is as simple as paying attention to your body and understanding what is normal for you," said Ruth Roddy, RN, Breast Care Specialist at Madison County Hospital.
The first step to breast self-awareness is understanding your family's history of breast cancer. Talk to your family members to learn more about your family health history. Has anyone in your family had breast cancer? Has anyone had ovarian or colon cancer? After you get the information, discuss your history with your physician. He or she can then help you determine the best screening plan for you.
Which brings us to our next point, get screened.
"You should have a mammogram every year starting at age 40," said Dr. Mitchell Spahn, Medical Director of the Battelle Breast Care Center. "You should also have clinical breast exams every three years starting at age 20 and every year starting at age 40."
If you cannot afford an annual mammogram, the Battelle Breast Care Center is offering mammograms and clinical breast exams at no out-of-pocket cost thanks to a grant from the Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Call 740-845-7100 and refer to the "Breast Care Clinic" to schedule your appointment.
Knowing what is normal for you also includes understanding both changes in your breasts that you can see and/or feel. Report any changes in your breasts to your healthcare provider. Changes can include a lump, hard knot or thickening; swelling, warmth, redness or darkening; a change in the size or the shape of the breast, dimpling or puckering of the skin; itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple; pulling in of the nipple or other parts of the breast; nipple discharge that starts suddenly; new pain in one spot that does not go away.
Finally, there are lifestyle choices you can make to help encourage breast health. According to research, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and limiting alcohol intake can all reduce your risk for breast cancer.
"You are your best health advocate," says Roddy. "If you think something is wrong, don't hesitate to let your doctor know."
Lean more about breast care services at MCH.