Every year over 211,000 women and 1,600 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer is a type of cancer where cells in the breast tissue divide and grow without the usual controls on cell death and cell division.
Signs of breast cancer vary from person to person but include:
- A lump, hard knot or thickening
- Change in breast size or shape
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
- Swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- New pain in one part of the breast
If you experience any of these symptoms you should see a health care provider right away.We are still not sure what causes breast cancer, although scientists believe that breast cancer is caused by a combination of factors that include genetics (such as family history of breast cancer), lifestyle choices (such as diet and alcohol use), and reproductive factors (such as when you first started menstruating and what age you reached menopause).
Since 70% of all breast cancer is found during an at home self breast exam, it is important to do one every month.
By doing a monthly breast self-exam once a month, women can become familiar with the way their breasts look and feel normally and thus may be able to recognize changes. When doing an exam, many women find that their breasts feel lumpy, because breast tissue is naturally bumpy. If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast, then it is probably just the normal breast tissue. Any time you find a new lump that feels different from the rest of the breast you should have it checked by a health care provider
How to do a Breast Self-Exam
- In the shower, fingers flat, move gently over every part of the breast.
- Check for any lumps, hard knots, or thickening.
- Before a mirror, inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, then raise your arms overhead and look for any changes in the contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling, or any changes in the nipple. Then place your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.
- Lying down, place a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. With the fingers of your left hand, press your right breast gently in small circular motions moving vertically or in a circular pattern. Squeeze the nipple and look for discharge. Repeat the steps for your left breast.
If you notice anything unusually during your self exam, make an appointment to see your health care provider.
You can have a breast exam done at Health Services on campus. Stop by the office or call to set up an appointment. 1st Floor of Jonsson Tower (518) 580-5550
For more information on Breast Cancer you can visit the Komen Foundation.