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
- 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.