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The Importance of Breast Examinations

woman examining self for breast lumps

Women should get regular breast examinations as part of their health routine. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women. There is a 1 in 8 chance that a woman will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Some risk factors can be prevented, while others are out of our control. The risk increases with age too. This is why breast examinations are very important for your health. We will explain how to self-examine your breasts, as well as when you should see your family doctor for thorough exams. 

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer 

Some breast cancer risks are out of your control, but you have influence over others. Even if you can’t do anything about some of the risks, being aware of them can prepare you for the battle.

Factors that Can’t Be Controlled

Most breast cancers are diagnosed after a woman has turned 50 years old. You are at higher risk if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. If you have already had it once, you are more likely to get it a second time. 

The longer you have dealt with hormones, the higher your risk. For example, if you started your period before age 12 and started menopause after age 55, you have been exposed to hormones longer than other women. 

Women with dense breasts are also more likely to develop breast cancer. Due to the significant amount of connective tissue, tumors are sometimes hard to spot in mammograms.

Controlled Factors

Exercise decreases the risk of breast cancer. If women are overweight after menopause, they also have a higher risk for this cancer too. When your first pregnancy is after the age of 30 and if you don’t breastfeed, you’re at risk. And the more you consume alcohol, the more the risk increases. But these are all lifestyle choices you can change. 

Breast Self-Examinations

This is a great self-care activity that you can incorporate into your schedule. Around 40% of breast cancer is detected during self-examinations. Adult women should perform this activity at least once a month. The best time is 7 to 10 days after your menstrual period starts. And if you have gone through menopause, choose the same date every month. 

There are three steps to self-examinations. The first one is when you are showering. Raise one hand to your head and gently press along your breasts and armpit on the side of your raised hand. The next step is to examine them in the mirror. Look at them when your arms are relaxed, as well as when you raise them up. Take note of the size, shape, and texture. The last step is to lie down on your back with a pillow under your shoulder. Raise the arm that is on the same side of the pillow behind your head. Again, use your fingers to apply pressure and look for any lumps.

Get Regular Mammograms

Women that are at age 40 should get breast examinations every year with their family physician. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you might need to get examined more frequently. When you visit your physician, you will get a mammogram done. Your breasts are compressed and flattened between two firm surfaces. Low-energy X-rays photograph them to detect lumps, tumors, or abnormalities.

Schedule an Appointment with MD365® 

Women should undergo regular breast examinations to decrease the risk of breast cancer. There are many other tests you may need throughout your life. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment. At MD365®, our family physicians are dedicated to providing you the best healthcare around. We will review your family history to better determine what you are at risk for. From there, we will perform the proper exams and procedures to ensure you live a long healthy life. 

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