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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual campaign isn’t just about wearing a pink ribbon; it’s a stark reminder of the importance of regular breast cancer screenings and promoting the empowerment of women to prioritize their health.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in women. The earlier it’s detected, the higher the chances of successful treatment. Regular mammograms remain the frontline defense in breast cancer detection. Women aged 40 and over are generally advised to have mammograms every one or two years. However, guidelines may vary, so it’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider about individual risk factors and the best screening plan.

According to BreastCancer.org:

“In May 2023, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a draft update to its mammogram recommendations, proposing that women at average risk of breast cancer start mammograms at age 40 and have a mammogram every other year. (This was a change from its controversial 2009 recommendation that women with an average risk of breast cancer should start routine screening mammograms at age 50.)”

In addition to mammograms, women should perform regular self-exams to detect unusual changes sooner. Look at the basic guide below on what to look for during a self-exam:

  • Look and Feel: Begin by visually inspecting your breasts in a mirror with your hands on your hips. Then, using the pads of your fingers, feel your breasts in a circular motion moving from the outside to the center. Check both breasts and the armpit area for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot.
  • Texture and Size: While some women naturally have lumpy breasts, it’s crucial to watch for any new lump or changes in the lumpiness of the breasts.
  • Nipple Changes: Be alert to any unexplained change in the position of the nipple, pain, or discharge (that’s not breast milk).
  • Redness or Swelling: Any unexplained change in the appearance or feel of the breast skin should be a cue for consultation with a medical professional.
  • Persistent Pain: While occasional breast pain is common, any unexplained, prolonged pain in the breasts or collarbone should be taken seriously.

Breast self-exams should ideally be performed once a month.

This month, as we recognize and support countless brave individuals battling breast cancer, we at Horizon Family Medical Group implore our patients to be proactive in their healthcare.

If you have questions or need to make an appointment, call us at 1-800-859-0085 or visit https://www.horizonfamilymedical.com/contact.