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Women should have breast examinations during their routine checkups.You may find it convenient to schedule this exam during your routine physical checkup. If a breast exam is not done during that checkup, you should ask for one. During the exam, the health professional feels the breast and underarm with the fingers, checking for lumps. This is called Palpation. The breasts also are checked for other changes such as dimpling, scaling, or puckering of the skin or a discharge from the nipples.
Women 40 and older should have breast examination annually.
BREAST SELF EXAM (BSE)
Women should do breast self-examination monthly.
Breasts come in all sizes and shapes, just as women do. our own breasts will even change throughout your life. Your monthly menstrual cycle, menopause, childbirth, breast-feeding, age, weight changes, and birth control pills or other hormones may change the shape, size, and feel of your breasts.
It is important to learn what is normal for you. This can be done by using BSE. It is easy to do, and, as the name implies, you do it yourself. Women taking charge of their own health are doing BSE regularly. They are also eating health foods, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco use.
BSE is done once a month, so that you become familiar with the usual appearance and feel of your own breasts. Familiarity makes it easier to notice any changes in your breasts from month to month. In fact, some health professionals suggest that, at first, women do BSE every day for a month so that they really know the “geography of their breasts. Early discovery of a change from what is normal is the whole idea behind BSE.
The best time to do BSE is 2 or 3 days after the end of your period, when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. A woman who no longer has a period may find it helpful to pick a particular day, such as the first day of the month, to remind herself that it is time to do BSE.
If you discover anything unusual, such as a lump, a discharge from the nipple, or dimpling or puckering of the skin, you should see your doctor at once. Remember, 8 out of 10 biopsied breast lumps are not cancer.
Many women have irregular or “lumpy” breasts. The term “benign breast condition” refers to those changes in a woman’s breast that are not cancerous. Many doctors believe that nearly all women have some benign breast changes after age 30. But any changes is best diagnosed by your doctor.
Discussing BSE with your doctor will help you understand the procedure better. Ask your doctor or other health professional to review with you the steps of BSE, as well as to explain what you are feeling in your breasts. This will assure you that you are doing your BSE correctly and thouroughly, and you will gain more confidence in examining your breasts.
Download self-exam instructions:
No, that doesnʼt mean you need to go outside and burn your bras. But you should probably wear it less than you think
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. Bras tend to raise the temperature of the breasts, and cancer thrives in higher temperatures than normal. Bras also restrict the natural flow of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and donʼt allow the normal lymph-pumping action of natural breast movement. (See number 4).
Well, youʼre probably already doing this. But take a few minutes to breathe differently every day, and youʼll notice a world of difference. Deep, slow breaths from your abdomen will oxygenate your system, keeping your cells happy and avoiding the oxygen-starved environment that fosters the growth of cancer cells.
3. Donʼt wear antiperspirants
“Eww gross”, youʼre probably saying to yourself. Not wearing antiperspirants doesnʼt automatically mean smelling like a horse, but it does mean staying away from the potentially cancer-causing aluminum thatʼs an ingredient in most products. (See here for my previous post on this).
Remember when I mentioned the “lymph-pumping action” your breasts have in natural movement? If you donʼt move a lot, they wonʼt do their job. The lymphatic system is a crucial component in the bodyʼs immune response, and lymph (the disease fighting fluid in the system) isnʼt pumped through your body like blood, but rather by the movement of your muscles. Some lymph nodes reside in your armpits (where a good deal of women end up having breast cancer) and when you “bounce” youʼre naturally pumping lymph from there into the rest of your body. And, of course, exercise will generally increase quality of life and allow you to live longer.
5. Stop being so stressed out!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 85% of all illness is caused by stress. Stop and think about that… then think about how often you live with that stress. Unfortunately, itʼs next to impossible to live in todayʼs world without stress, but it is possible to find ways to deflect it or release it. One way is simply to find the time to do whatever it takes to get some rest and quiet (two essential ingredients to stress relief). Another way is to just say NO to all the commitments that clamor for your time. Be wise about how you manage your time, and youʼll find your stress levels will decrease.
Learn more about The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom, you can purchase this book at Amazon.com