October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and these days it would be hard to find anyone that hasn’t been affected in some way by this specific type of cancer. Whether it was a loved one, a friend, or even yourself, all of us in some way, shape, or form have been affected by Breast Cancer.
Did you know that our risk of cancer increases with age, with the majority of diagnosis in Canada happening between 65-69 years. And many seniors tend to put off seeing a doctor or mentioning changes in their health, resulting in cases being discovered at later times. Survival rates are close to 100% for women with stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer.
Here are some steps you can follow at home to perform a self exam from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam:
- In the Shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
- In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
- Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
If you think that you notice an irregularity we recommend booking an appointment with your doctor to set up a Mammogram and get definitive answers. This is a relatively simple and noninvasive procedure that will give you the answers you need.
Many people turn to family and friends for support during these challenging times, but for many seniors this isn’t an option. That is why having regular companion care is so great, not just to visit and talk with, but to have someone to support you when things are tough, or if you aren’t comfortable speaking with family and friends about things.