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Three Steps for Women to Detect Breast Cancer Early

Posted: Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 at 6:28 am
Author: KCII News - Sam McIntosh

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s good to remind women of three ways they can detect breast cancer early.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. the first way to detect breast cancer is breast self-awareness. Rebecca Kuehn, PA-C of Mercy Family Medicine of Kalona explains this concept, “Self-breast exam is something that women can always do and traditionally it’s been recommended to do that in the shower, usually once a month.” Kuehn recommends to self exam two weeks after your period, as breasts can sometimes be lumpier before a period.

The second step in early detection is to have a well-woman exam, or breast exam by your family physician or gynecologist yearly. The third step is to have an annual mammogram test for those 40 and older, and though it is the most accurate way to detect tumors, Kuehn emphasizes the importance of a physical breast exam, “A mammogram by itself has some limitations. There’s 10-15% of cancers where a woman will have a normal mammogram and that’s where the physical exam comes in. So it is important to have a breast exam with your provider plus a mammogram. Because if we feel something we still follow up on it with a biopsy if it’s worrisome, even if the mammogram is normal.”

Changes to look for during self-examination include a lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area, a change in the size or shape of the breast, and a dimpling or puckering in the skin of the breast.