October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we have put together some tips for early detection. Early detection, of finding cancer before it spreads, is key in providing the greatest possibility of successful treatment. The following steps should be taken to ensure breast health.

Step 1: Breast Self-Awareness

Breast self-exams can help you to become more familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. This can make it easier to identify any changes in your breasts should they occur, which should be reported to your healthcare professional. If a lump is found, an appointment with your doctor should be made.

Changes that you should be aware of include a lump on or near the breast, or in the underarm area, changes in size or shape of the breast, discharge from the nipple, an inverted nipple, or puckering of the skin on the breast.

Step 2: Well-Woman Exam
Women should visit their gynecologist or family physician each year for a Well-Woman Exam. These include a pelvic exam, a pap smear, and a brief breast exam. This exam is a great opportunity to discuss any healthcare concerns or questions that you may have about your breasts.

Step 3: Mammogram

Because breast cancer does not usually cause symptoms in its early stages, it is recommended that women ages 40 and older get a mammogram once a year. This safe X-ray of the breast can detect cancerous tumors and other abnormalities in the breast. They can also detect cancer or other issues before a lump is even big enough to be felt in a self-exam.

By taking these early detections steps, you are actively taking part in taking care of yourself and your breasts. To learn more about breast health and early detection, visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org.

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