Hello, Warriors! How are you doing today? We here at The Breast Place hope you’re enjoying the long days of constant sunshine midsummer has to offer. Whether you’re at the beach with your family or basking in your backyard, remember to slather on a thick layer of your favorite sunscreen!
Today, our aim is to impress upon each of our readers the importance of teaching your daughters how to perform a breast self-exam and how you might go about having such a conversation. We understand these sorts of things can be tricky. It’s our professional opinion: preparation is the pangea to anxiety in situations such as this one. Equipped with knowledge, you can answer any questions your daughter might have about why breast self-exams are necessary and how to perform one herself. This exchange doesn’t have to be awkward. In fact, we hope with the information in this article, both you and your daughter will walk away from the conversation feeling confident and empowered.
On the Importance of Self-Examination
A breast self-exam (BSE) is, as the name suggests, a self-performed examination of one’s own chest area. The area underneath one’s armpits is also included in a self examination.
The chief benefit of self-exams are their potential to alert women to the presence of lumps and masses in their breasts which might be cancerous. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancer cases are first detected by women who felt a lump. Early awareness is a key factor in determining survival rates in cases involving non-metastatic invasive breast cancer. Sixty-three percent of women are diagnosed while the cancer is still contained within the breast and of these women, the five-year survival rate is ninety-nine percent. However, young women—ages 15 to 39—are less likely to be diagnosed within this early stage because regular breast cancer screenings don’t begin until age forty for most.
The chance of women under forty developing breast cancer is only five percent. However minimal this risk factor may seem, it is still a risk. Therefore, teaching your daughters how to perform self-exams is vital.
Knowing One’s Own Body
The secondary benefit of performing regular self-exams might be the more universal of the two. We all need to have at least a basic understanding of our bodies. Performing regular breast self-exams can help your daughter to become familiar with her own physicality. Doctors recommend young women conduct self-exams less for the chance they’ll find a cancerous mass and more to have a solid understanding of what’s “normal” for them. Only by having a baseline of what your breasts look and feel like can young people identify when something has changed.
Now, you’re ready to have “the talk.” You don’t necessarily have to plan out what you’re going to say. In fact, it’s better if you don’t! You don’t want anything to sound too scripted. This is a natural topic of conversation between you and your daughter. Therefore, it’s always better to keep things casual.
When and Where
As with any in-depth conversation, you want to choose your moment. On a broader scale, this comes down to when—in your daughter’s timeline of development—you choose to have this conversation. While some doctors don’t recommend starting breast exams until you’re at least twenty and fully developed, others recommend beginning self-exams as soon as puberty. In this aspect, you must gauge the maturity of your child. Will they participate in this sort of conversation or plug their ears and run away? If it’s the latter, you might want to wait until they’re a bit more mature to have this conversation.
On a smaller scale, when to have this conversation depends on external factors. Environment. Time-of-day. Even whether or not your child has eaten. For the optimal retention of information, you’ll want to choose a day when your child is well-rested. Choose a private location for this conversation, as well. Though there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, no one wants an audience when they're talking about intimate parts of their bodies.
Do Your Research
Knowledge is your friend. Don’t go into the conversation unprepared. Chances are, your daughter will have questions about things. If you’re confused about certain aspects of the self-exam, you’ll only transfer your confusion onto her. Make sure you’re able to answer the most common questions.
How often should I be performing a self-exam? Once a month.
When should I perform the exam? At least a week after your last period. This allows any swelling of the breasts to lessen before the exam.
Where should I perform an exam? Self-exams can be performed standing up or lying down. They’ll want to add in the assistance of a mirror (when standing) in order to visually inspect the breasts. Doctors no longer recommend performing self-exams in the shower.
What should I be looking for? You’re looking for any lumps, bumps, hard masses, dimpling, discoloration, changes in texture, or discharge.
What’s normal? Everyone’s body is different. Therefore, there is no basic definition for normal. You’ll have to develop your own definition after multiple self-exams. Uneven breasts aren’t necessarily an indication of something being wrong. Likewise, stretchmarks (lighter or darker toned striations where the skin has stretched) are no cause for concern. What you want to keep an eye out for is major differences between the breasts (i.e. deformations or dimpling) and other sudden changes in the feel and appearance of your breasts.
How do I perform a self-exam?
This part of the conversation depends on your level of comfortability. You can either verbally explain what to do or physically demonstrate using hand motions or combine a mixture of both methods. You can also print out a self-exam guide on the National Breast Cancer organization website.
Stand in front of a mirror. With your arms by your side, visually assess your chest area. You’re looking for noticeable changes in contour, dimpling, discoloration or strange texture. Next, raise your arms above your head. Continue your visual examination. Next, place your arms on your hips and press to flex your pectoral muscles. Continue your visual examination, searching for major differences in the usual appearance of your breasts.
Lying Down Self-Exam
Lie down with a pillow placed under the shoulder of the breast you’re examining. Lift the arm on the side of the breast you’re examining until your bicep is beside your ear. Use the three middle fingers of your opposite hand (i.e. ring, middle, index) to make a flat surface. Using the flat surface of the pads of your fingers, palpate the entire breast area, including the armpit. You can use varying degrees of pressure. You can use an up-down motion, make circles, or radiate your palpitation outward from the nipple. Finally, squeeze each nipple to check for blood or discharge.
After the Talk
What happens after the talk is just as important as the actual conversation. At this point, your child will go off to process the information and perform a self-examination alone. Especially in the beginning, self-examinations can be the catalyst of worry. This next section will help you handle the emotions which might come up as a result of a self-exam.
Self-exams shouldn’t be a source of anxiety. In fact, they’re a wonderful tool for assuaging anxiety. Self-exams cannot rule out the possibility of having breast cancer. To rule out any foreign masses, you or your child would need to have a mammogram performed by a doctor. However, self-exams give us a small amount of power in the knowledge they imbue. With an understanding of our own body and what’s “normal” for us, we’re equipped to notice when something goes awry.
And, even when something does go awry, it’s not always a reason to panic. Eight out of ten lumps are not cancerous. They can be cysts or benign tumors or even just particularly dense sections of breast tissue.
Self-exams take five to ten minutes and only need to be completed once a month. As women, we have a responsibility to ourselves to check in with our own bodies. This is how we manage our health. Fear is most often born out of a lack of knowledge. With regular self-exams, we’re collecting knowledge about ourselves and managing our fear.
Assuage and Anticipate
Even equipped with the proper knowledge and relevant statistics, self-exams can bring up a lot of guessing and wondering. In the weeks or months following your conversation, check-in with your daughter. Of course, gauge her willingness to continue the conversation first. You might ask her how she’s feeling about her self-exams. Does she have any questions? Even if you’re not able to answer her questions and concerns, you can both take a trip to the doctor’s office and learn about breast health together.
Discussing your daughter’s health care concerns doesn’t have to be done alone. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help assuage any fears which might arise after beginning self-exams. That’s why The Breast Place offers consultations concerning breast pain, breast lumps or masses, abcesses and nipple discharge. Our physicians can show you and your daughter how to properly perform a self-exam and run family history risk assessments to see if you’re genetically predisposed to certain forms of breast cancer.
If you or your daughter do encounter a lump, don’t panic. Instead, schedule an appointment as soon as you’re able. The Breast Place offers several breast imaging services, including: mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs. Whether you have dense breast tissue or have had an abnormal mammogram, we can assist you in deciding what the next step in your healthcare journey should be and facilitate the necessary care. We’re here to help!
Becoming a mother is one of the most exciting, difficult, rewarding, and beautiful things you can experience. While many parts of your journey as a new mother will have their challenges, lactation can be one of the most difficult. Let us help you with The Breast Place's lactation services!
Hello, Warriors! All of us at The Breast Place hope each of you is doing happy and well out there. We hope you also know that we are here to help and support you no matter what is happening in your life! We understand that life is challenging and we will always be here to listen, treat, and make your life more hopeful. We are so glad you've joined us today! To all of our returning warriors, thank you for your support and we hope you've found comfort, hope, and guidance in our blogs! To all of our new readers, welcome! Let us introduce ourselves a little more before we dive into today's topic about lactation! We are The Breast Place and we work hard to provide hope through wellness and beauty for women facing life's continued challenges. Our team specializes in both malignant and benign breast disease. As a team, we work together with you, educating, treating, and caring for you. We will also grow with you as you change, age, and survive offering self-confidence with scar revision and body contouring, and physical wellness. We offer skincare treatments like resurfacing and rejuvenation using the latest laser technology to address fine lines, wrinkles, and textural issues and antiaging products to keep your skin healthy and youthful. Injectables and IV therapies are available as well!
A part of life's changes and processes that many of our warriors go through is becoming a mother, and one of the most common issues that so many go through is troubles with lactation. Here at The Breast Place, our providers are not only lactation specialists, they have first-hand knowledge of the difficulties of breastfeeding. If you are experiencing difficulties with breastfeeding including clogged ducts, mastitis, pain, nipple bleeding or cracking, or fungal infections, please feel free to contact us for a consultation, a latch evaluation, education, and support. Today, we are going to be talking a little bit more about lactation and the difficulties many face while breastfeeding, sharing a little insight on what can cause these issues, and how you can help improve them while waiting to come see us!
The decision to breastfeed your child is a very personal one, and we are here to support and respect your choice. However, if you are wanting to breastfeed, that is today's topic of conversation and this blog is for you! Breastfeeding your child is incredibly healthy, providing them with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients that your baby needs. However, it can take a minute for both mom and baby to get the hang of it. So please mamas, don't worry or fret if this journey hasn't been the easiest. It is very common and you are not alone in these struggles.
Today, we are going to give you some insight on how to make this process a little easier and to avoid as many of these situations as possible. Thankfully with our guidance and what we are going to be talking about today, we can help both you and your baby get through any difficulties you face, together. While you may not experience every difficulty that we will be mentioning today, don't think that it will be a perfect ride, either.
These are just some of the common lactation and breastfeeding hurdles and issues many women deal with during their first or through every pregnancy. As we've stated before, you might experiences some or just one of these issues, but all of them are common and there are plenty of ways to deal with each issue to help comfort you and your baby. Each healing step is there to help make the breastfeeding process special and enjoyable for both you and your baby. We are here to help you with the whole process. You are not alone, and we are here for you and your baby when you need us most! Until next time, stay safe and be well out there. We understand life is challenging. We are here to listen, support, treat, and help make life a little easier.
While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, April is National Cancer Control Month. As we finish out this month and head closer to summer, we wanted to talk a little bit more about this month, its focus, and what you can do to help spread awareness!
Hello readers, warriors, and friends! Welcome back to the Breast Place's blog! October, as you know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While we try to treat every month as Breast Cancer Awareness Month to educate, support, and spread as much information and awareness as we can, we still need your help and support to achieve our goals. While April might not solely focus on breast cancer, it is still one of the many forms of Cancer that are discussed and included in this month's awareness. Many of our new readers and those still adjusting to their diagnosis may also be new to the idea of National Cancer Control Month. What is cancer control? According to cancer.org, cancer control and the month of April helps bring awareness about and focus on reducing the number of individuals who get cancer, end up with complications from their diagnosis, and who die from it. "It uses approaches that have been tested through research to control the number of cancer cases as well as the effect of cancer". This month's whole goal of cancer control is to prevent cancer, reduce the risk of cancer, detect cancer sooner, improve all cancer treatments, help more people who are diagnosed with cancer survive, and improve the quality of life for those who have cancer. Another goal of cancer control is to help with the overall effects and burden cancer puts on your life and how it affects your community, your family, and you!
April became National Cancer Control month in 1938. Declared by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for over 83 years the month of April has been dedicated to raising awareness for all forms of cancer and to support its treatment and cure throughout the United States. Thanks to years of hard work and the push to better educate our citizens here in the US, the death toll from cancer did see a steady decline when National Cancer Control month was created. This education and awareness have been dedicated to teaching how to prevent certain cancers, how to recognize signs and symptoms, and how to find proper treatment. At the time that National Cancer Control was created, so many men and women didn't know what symptoms to look for and they didn't know who to turn to for help. While many would go to their local doctors, they weren't aware of many specialists that existed to help them prevent and recover from any cancer they might have been suffering from.
To this day, one of the most effective ways to help prevent almost all cancers or to catch them in their earliest stages is with screenings. The screening will help detect precancerous cells and provide early treatment to hopefully catch and eliminate the found cancer before it becomes any kind of serious problem. One of the most common and easy screened cancers is breast cancer, thanks to breast imaging like yearly mammograms for women ages 40 and older.
The battle to fight for cancer in the US truly began as our country was also fighting in WWII. Thanks to President Roosevelt who viewed the diseases as deadly as the enemy we were fighting overseas, cancer awareness finally became a solid reality. While it is something that we are all very aware of now, this hasn't always been the case. While almost all Americans knew and paid close attention to the enemies we were fighting overseas during WWII, far fewer knew the dangers of cancer, and many didn't even realize how serious cancer was. Roosevelt changed this with his declaration of Cancer Control Month. At the time, according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, cancer was claiming almost 150,000 American lives every year, many of these cases could have been stopped or prevented with regular checkups, care, and education. When Roosevelt declared April as National Cancer Control Month, he called upon the media, school, universities, medical professionals, and many more to help him with this endeavor. While this was a powerful campaign and has been since it began, cancer and its burdens are still affecting millions of Americans every year. Due to the continued rise of cases, the month of April has shifted its focus into five different categories.
This year, the president made a declaration to the nation regarding National Cancer Control Month, and along with the 83 years it has been around, this year is also the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971. This legislation pushed our nation to really commit to cancer research, established a network of cancer centers, advanced research, clinical trials, and data collection systems. Without this landmark legislation, many breakthroughs against cancer that have happened in recent years might not have occurred. He also made note that due to the pandemic, many disruptions were made to cancer care including routine screenings, therapy, diagnosis, and much more. With National Cancer Control Month on its way out and the covid-19 vaccine on its way in, please do not delay any future treatments, screening, or doctor visits. Now is the time to get back to how to control cancer so it doesn't control us. While we have made exceptional advances against cancer, there is still much to be done. If anything, national cancer control month does an excellent job of reminding us how much we've accomplished and how much farther we still need to go.
While we all continue to do our part to educate and spread awareness throughout April and every single month throughout the year, this month can be a little overwhelming and make us all feel defeated. When this happens, the best thing to do is to focus on the positive, and focus on what we can do and not on what we still can't. This month is dedicated to uniting us all thanks to the power of knowledge. Help spread the word and get involved. If you can, donate to cancer research to help improve treatment and help with the survival rate. While you might not be able to financially give back and support, there are many free ways to give back and help. One way to do that is with a free cancer prevention and early detection kit from the NFCR. This kit includes tips and suggestions on how to lower your personal chances of getting cancer, information about the different types of cancer screenings available to you, and it comes in a downloadable form so you can share it with anyone and everyone to help spread awareness. While you're in this mindset, don't forget some of the most effective ways to prevent many different types of cancer, including breast cancer, can be achieved by making small changes in your life.
Now that you know a little more about cancer control month, its power and its influence depend on people like you; those who are aware and want to share their knowledge, those dealing with all stages of diagnosis, and those who are loved ones of those going through a diagnosis. Keep talking, keep sharing, and keep giving back as much as you can! We are here to help you with all of this, so please never hesitate to reach out to us when you need us most! Don't forget, if you're looking for a women's imaging center near you, breast imaging, laser scar removal, and much more, you have found everything you need right here at The Breast Place. We are your leading professionals in Charleston to provide hope through wellness and beauty for women facing life's challenges. We specialize in malignant and benign breast disease and as a team, we work with you to educate, treat, and provide the best care we can. Until next time, stay safe and be well out there. We understand life is challenging. We are here to listen, support, treat, and help make life a little easier.