This NBCAM, We’re Talking About Early Detection and Breast Self-Awareness
By: Marlene Krobatsch, Fall 2018 Mission Communications Intern
Every October, we honor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). During this month, it is important to remember the significance of early detection. The best chance of survival is to catch breast cancer in its early stages, when its small and hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. We like to tell people that 40 isn’t a definite number for getting your first mammogram, as it is all dependent on your personal risk.
It is important to discuss your personal risk of developing breast cancer with your healthcare provider. Depending on your risk level, your doctor may want you to get a mammogram at a younger age and more often than other women. Mammograms use x-rays to create images of the breast and are the most effective way to find breast cancer. They can detect breast cancer when it is small, before you can personally feel it.
The sooner breast cancer is discovered, the easier it is to successfully treat it. Later stages of breast cancer are harder to treat because they can spread to multiple places in the body, called metastasis.
Women with a strong family history of breast cancer are at a much higher risk of getting the disease. Women with a first-degree female relative with breast cancer are twice as likely to receive it themselves, and if they have more than 1 relative with it, the chances increase to about 3–4 times higher. In order to take the most precautionary steps, it is important to speak to your doctor and understand your individual risks of developing breast cancer.
Knowing how your breast normally look and feel can help you detect when something is abnormal. If any changes occur it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. Be breast self-aware and get to know your breasts. Know what is normal for you!
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in size or shape of the breast
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
NBCAM brings women and men affected by this disease together. This month helps us to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and breast self-awareness.
Two of our core mission values are care and community. We work to eliminate disparities in breast cancer care and outcomes by addressing gaps in access and quality in our 13-county service area through our grants program. Through this action, we work to educate our communities about the importance of early detection and provide women and men affected by breast cancer with the services they need.
Komen CSNJ is here for you; you are not alone. For more information and resources, please visit our website at www.komencsnj.org.