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THE ESSENCE OF BREAST HEALTH
The power of a simple phrase can fill our hearts with joy, sadness or laughter. And, in the case of a woman faced with the words "you have breast cancer", oh so much fear. Shocking, debilitating and unnerving, nearly 60,000 women each year hear these words. Mothers, daughters, sisters, wives--this disease is not particular. And, sooner or later it will likely strike someone you love and care for.
Although we are making progress in our understanding of the causes of breast cancer, a woman's best defense against breast cancer is EARLY DETECTION.
The plain truth is that finding breast cancer early can mean the difference between life and death--the difference between seeing children and grandchildren grow up or being little more than a photograph or a memory.
CONSIDER THESE FACTS
1. One in eight American women will have a diagnosis of breast cancer during their lives
2. More than 80% of the women diagnosed will not have a family history of breast cancer
3. Finding breast cancer when it is small can mean local removal, avoiding more agressive therapy.
4. Early detection can increase a woman's chance of survival by 81%
The American Cancer Society. list 3 necessary steps to good breast health
When it comes to breast health, breast self-examination is one of the three components of a comprehensive breast-screening program, as recommended by the American Cancer Society. It is something every woman should do each month, to assist in the early detection of breast cancer. It is easy to do and only takes a few minutes and provides you with the best opportunity for a proactive approach to breast cancer. Despite this easy procedure, many women are afraid, unsure or simply uncomfortable with performing their self-exams. Learn to do this regularly.
REGULAR BREAST EXAMS BY YOUR DOCTOR
Most lumps are actually found by women themselves. However, studies have shown than combining the regular self-exams with an annual exam by your doctor improves the chances of detecting breast cancer early.
Leading experts at the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute recommend annual mammograms for all women over 40 years of age. However, there is a misconception that mammograms will pick up every breast cancer. It doesn't, since breast tissue itself may sometimes hide a small cancer (false negative). Or sometimes mammograms suggest a small cancer or suspicious area that later turns out to be a false alarm (false positive).
Sometimes your doctor will suggest a repeat mammogram in a few months, or an additional procedure (such as a breast MRI) if there is a suspicious area.
So don't forget--women need all three preventative approaches discussed here to have the best chance at early detection of breast cancer.