With Susan G. Komen Charlotte’s Race for the Cure fast approaching on October 7– the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser — it’s time to get reacquainted with your greatest assets: your breasts.
Remember them? Look down. Wave hello.
Paying attention to your breasts and your overall health can empower you to make better lifestyle and medical decisions. After all, breast cancer can happen to anyone regardless of their age, gender, race, religion, geographic location and socioeconomic status.
And there’s an even bigger reason why you need to get your bust in gear: Race for the Cure has a new goal to cut cancer in half by 2026.
Given that, here are fast facts on how you can start paying better attention to your breasts:
Know your risk. The most common risk for breast cancer is, unfortunately, being a woman and being over 40-years-old. Yes, that sounds woefully patriarchal but it’s true. It’s rare for men to have breast cancer; 1 in 1,000 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 8 women. Having a chat with your mom, sister, or Great Aunt Ethel about your family’s breast health history may inform you of your own well-being, but not by much: Only five to ten percent of breast cancers are related to genetics. Also be sure to talk to your doctor about your own personal risk of breast cancer.
Get screened. Ask your doctor about which screening tests are appropriate for you, especially if you are at a higher risk of breast cancer. Starting at age 20, be sure to have a clinical breast exam at least every three years and then every year starting at age 40. If you’re at an average risk of breast cancer, you’ll want to start mammography screenings at age 40.
Know what is normal for you. Visit with your healthcare provider if you notice changes in your breasts including lumps, pain, itchy rash, nipple discharge, redness/darkening, changes in size/shape, or dimpling of the skin. If you’re a man, breast cancer symptoms can include a lump in the chest area, nipple changes, and skin dimpling or puckering.
Make healthy lifestyle choices. You can start with the following: Maintain a healthy weight and diet with a diet of fruits, vegetables and grains; exercise; limit drinking alcohol; limit menopause hormones if using already; and if you are pregnant or have a new baby, breastfeed if you can.
Starting with these tips, you are taking charge of your breast health — and you’ll be part of a growing majority of women who are doing just that. Almost 75 percent of women over 40 receive regular mammograms, which is key to early detection of breast cancer.
More information: Join the Race for the Cure on October 7 by registering here and selecting whether you’re registering as a team, individual or joining a team.