- Published on Thursday, 01 November 2012 14:36
- Written by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, special to BlackAmericaWeb
Too many African American women discover that they have breast cancer when the disease is advanced, rather than at early stages when treatment may be more effective. That simply doesn’t have to be the case. Previously, we explored 7 reasons why breast cancer is an issue that our community can’t ignore. Now the spotlight turns to 4 simple breast self-awareness messages and actions that each of us can take to empower ourselves to take charge of our health, and next week the resources available to help
According to a recent study of 1.5 million insured women, about half didn’t get regular mammograms. Why is that?
How many times have YOU been “too busy” to take YOU to the doctor? On the other hand, have you ever been “too busy” to take someone you love to the doctor? The answer to the first question is probably “more times than I care to admit”. The answer to the second question is most likely a resounding “NEVER”. We’re always too busy to take care of ourselves but we’re never too busy to take care of others. It’s time to rewrite this story. It is important to ensure your own personal well being in order to take care of others.
The good news is that getting started is easy. Susan G. Komen for the Cure® has 4 Breast Self-Awareness messages that can help you understand your risks, prompt you to get screened, recognize what is normal for you and provide tips on making healthy lifestyle choices– and there are action items associated with each message that makes it clear what
we can DO.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure® recommends that you:
1. Know your risk
• Talk to your family to learn about your family health history
• Talk to your provider about your personal risk of breast cancer
Family health history is very important because you may be at increased risk. However, remember that MOST women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease!. Although you may be at greater risk for developing breast cancer if you have a family history, you are not excluded if you don’t.
2. Get screened
• Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk
• Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
• Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40
• Sign up for your screening reminder at komen.org/reminder
Breast cancer doesn’t just affect women 40 and over. Pay attention and get the screening that’s right for you even if you’ve not quite reached the age for recommended annual mammograms.
3. Know what is normal for you
See your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes:
• Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
• Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
• Change in the size or shape of the breast
• Dimpling or puckering of the skin
• Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
• Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
• Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
• New pain in one spot that doesn't go away
Beware! It’s not just about what you “feel”. Six of the 8 warning signs are visual. Click here to see what you should look for. Always check with your healthcare provider if you notice any of these signs or anything that you know isn’t normal for you.
4. Make healthy lifestyle choices
• Maintain a healthy weight
• Add exercise into your routine
• Limit alcohol intake
• Limit postmenopausal hormone use Check with Susan Brown on these last two --
• Breastfeed, if you can
The two most common risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older – two things we can’t control. However, there are steps that we can all take to lower our risks.
• Visit BlackAmericaWeb.com next week to learn about resources that can truly make a difference.
• Share this valuable information with someone you know
• Visit komen.org at this link to find out more about Breast Self-Awareness
• Keep reading. Click here for Komen’s complete guide to Understanding Breast Cancer