Take charge of your breast health during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

10-17-2014

While we’ve come a long way in detecting and battling breast cancer, it’s still the most common form of cancer among American women and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women. This October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make breast health a priority and learn about preventive measures. The goal is to detect early stages of breast cancer when prognosis is the best.

Here are few tips on how you can take charge of your breast health.

  • First, “know” your breasts! By being more aware of your breasts, you’ll more likely recognize any irregularities like a lump or a change in the shape, size and texture of a breast. Be sure to report any changes to your doctor right away.
  • Conduct regular breast self exams (BSE) to detect any changes. There are three different ways: in front of the mirror, in the shower, and lying down. Pick the option that works best for you. Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s website for helpful tips on how to conduct a BSE.
  • Get annual mammograms beginning at age 40. Mammography – the gold standard in breast cancer screening – is a low-dose X-ray procedure that allows visualization of the internal structure of the breast.
    • Screening mammograms are for women who are at average risk and have no breast symptoms.
    • Diagnostic mammograms are performed if abnormalities are found in a screening mammogram or if there are noticeable problems. A diagnostic screening can also provide a closer look and actually clarify that an area that showed as “abnormal” on a screening mammogram is actually normal.

While there’s no “magic bullet” in terms of preventing breast cancer, it’s important for women to take preventive measures. In addition to regular screening, women can reduce their risk for developing the disease by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and eating a balanced diet – all of which can help aid the recovery process if cancer is detected. Those at a higher risk for breast cancer – with first-degree relatives who have been impacted by the disease, and/or other risk factors – should discuss their options with their physician.

Sumy H. Chang, MD, FACS is a fellowship-trained, board-certified surgeon specializing in prevention, detection and treatment options for breast health issues. Dr. Chang earned her medical degree from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn, N.Y. She completed a residency in general surgery at Staten Island University Hospital, N.Y. and a breast surgery fellowship at Beth Israel Medical Center/St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Chang is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, and the Surgical Society of Oncology.

Categories: Healthy Living Blog