Breast Cancer Detection
As outrageous as this seems, scientists are just beginning to research what causes breast cancer and how to prevent the disease. This leaves you with a couple of options. On a global scale you can start writing your federal politicians and newspapers to demand that more money be directed toward primary research. On a backyard level we need to use our own good sense and intuition, live a healthy lifestyle and practice early detection methods.
There are three screening methods under the heading of early detection; none of which are guaranteed or foolproof. The general rule of thumb is to practice all three for the best early diagnostic tool available. And, when you are doing your breast activism, demand that a safe, reliable detection method for women of all ages be a priority.
Monthly: Breast Self Examination (BSE): BSE is a monthly routine examination of both breasts by oneself. Becoming familiar with your breasts through BSE raises the likelihood of detecting any changes in your breast tissue and surrounding area. A BSE should take approximately 10 minutes per breast. Ask your nurse or clinician to instruct you on the most effective method. Although there has been controversy about BSE's over the last couple of years, which is completely beyond me, it is generally agreed the BSE leads to regular, general breast awareness and should be used by all women starting as early as 18 years of age.
Annually: Clinical Breast Exam: A clinical breast exam is performed by a qualified health care professional, often part of an annual check-up. A complete breast exam should take about 10 minutes per breast.
Age and Risk Factor Defined: Mammography: A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray picture of the breast that can detect cancerous lumps so small they cannot be felt by either a BSE or a clinical exam. Your starting date depends on age and risk factors. Some groups recommend 40 years of age with repeat mammograms every 2 years. Ideally, you will discuss your starting date with your doctor.
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