October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and we would like to help empower and educate more women and their families what they can do to help prevent cancer in the future.
There are many ways we can bring attention to our health, and early detection is one of the best ways to increase survival odds.
“When breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 100%. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.”
Self Breast Exams
Adult women of all ages can help detect cancers early by performing breast self exams once a month.
By performing monthly self-exams, you will notice if there are any changes to the breast. When performing a self-exam, it is important to test thoroughly. The National Breast Cancer Foundation suggests following these steps for a thorough self-exam:
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
It’s important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and anytime there is something unusual, it should be brought to attention with your family physician or gynecologist.
Key signs to notice:
Changes in how the breast or nipple feels– tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area. Changes in skin texture, enlargement of pores on the skin of the breast (orange peel texture), a lump in the breast can be non-cancerous, but should be checked by a healthcare professional.
Changes to the breast or nipple appearance— any changes to the size or shape of the breast (unexplained) such as: dimpling, swelling, shrinkage, skin that becomes red, swollen or scaly, or recent asymmetry
Nipple discharge— if you are not breastfeeding, there should be no discharge. If you notice any clear, bloody, or milky discharge, contact your doctor.
Gender: breast cancer occurs nearly 100x more often in women than men.
Age: Two out of three women with invasive cancers are diagnosed after the age of 55.
Race: Breast cancer is diagnosed more in Caucasian women than women of other ethnicities.
Family History and Genetic Factors: If a family member has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancers, especially if they were diagnosed before the age of 50, there is a higher risk.
Environmental and Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity, poor diet, obesity/overweight, alcohol consumption, radiation therapies, hormone replacement therapies.
Personal Health History: If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or atypical, there is an increased risk in the future.
Healthy Habits to reduce your risk
– Self breast exams- make a habit once a month
– Maintaining a healthy weight- eat fruits, cruciferous veggies and whole foods
– Staying physically active- exercise with moderate intensity 5-6x a week. Listen to your body.
– Do not smoke & limit alcohol consumption
– Avoid xenoestrogens- say NO to plastics. They can greatly disrupt your hormonal balance.
– Get adequate rest! Sleep and meditation are wonderful ways to recharge.
– Acupuncture to ease the nervous system, getting out of that fight or flight stress response.
Acupuncture for Cancer Care
In recent years, medical research in the United States has shown that acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment for people experiencing the symptoms of cancer and side effects of the treatment, such as chemotherapy, surgery, hormone and radiation therapies.A study of 302 people with breast cancer found that acupuncture was helpful in managing a large range of cancer symptoms during a six week treatment period. The symptoms included in the study were physical pain, depression, anxiety and mental fatigue and fogginess. Acupuncture is able to stimulate the nervous system, releasing chemicals that naturally act as painkillers, and trigger the immune response. They then can begin to help weakened areas of the body to relieve painful symptoms. Along with these treatments, we are able to help alleviate hot flashes, decrease nausea and vomiting, lessen pain, and relieve fatigue.
Getting back to your lifestyle and less time feeling the side effects from treatments will help ease the stress on your body and mind.
We would love to help you feel better! Call today for a free consultation or to make an appointment with us at (631) 424-8602.