October 15, 2019
Pink is in the air! That means that it’s October which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!! We interviewed Dr Vicki Seidmeyer to learn more about how women can take care of themselves as well as their mothers, daughters and sisters or any other women in their lives.
Keep Your Head Up…
Many advances have been made in identification and treatments for breast cancer over the past 20 years. Many women survive breast cancer and go on to live wonderful, productive lives. They are usually the most proud, loud and compelling advocates for others dealing with the diagnosis.
When Should I Start Thinking About it?
Women should start thinking about their breast health around the age of 20 or 21, especially if you have a family history with first degree relatives that have or have had breast cancer.
What do I look for?
Changes in the color or texture of your skin may be concerning symptoms for which you should seek care from your physician. Changes to look for include the texture of an orange peel or reddish-pink discoloration. If these color changes last more than 2 weeks then consult your provider.
Beginning around age 40 you should get your first screening mammogram. This is different for women with family histories significant for breast cancer.
- If you have one first degree relative (mother/aunt/sister) with breast cancer then you should start screening around age 35.
- If you have 2 relatives with breast cancer then you would typically start getting mammograms 5-10 years earlier.
According to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), screening mammograms should be done yearly beginning at the age of 40. It can be ordered by your provider during your yearly preventative physical or it can be self-ordered by calling a mammogram facility directly. You do not need a doctor’s order for a routine screening mammogram. During the month of October it is common for mammogram facilities to special price this test for cash-pay patients.
What to expect during your mammogram…
The best time to do your mammogram is right after you finish your menstrual period as your breasts tend to be less painful at this time of the month. You can expect a firm “squish” that lasts about 10 seconds. It really is no big deal. We’re women, we can deal with a lot!!
Most mammogram facilities will send a letter directly to you if your test is normal. The report will also go to your ordering provider. If your test is not normal then the facility will reach out to you and your provider and additional tests may need to be ordered. If this ever happens, do not panic and immediately think the worst. This could mean many, many things other than cancer. A few examples include cysts and breasts that simply don’t match one another (asymmetrical) among many others.
As we age, our risk for breast cancer increases. There are several reasons for this including weaker immune systems as well as more time for exposures during our lifetime. One of the most significant things you can do to decrease your risk for breast cancer is eat a well balanced diet that is low in animal fat and to avoid cigarette smoking. It is also a great idea to maintain a good healthy weight.
Want to get involved?
You can reach out to your local Susan G. Komen group by clicking here.