If you are a Canadian woman, you have about a one in nine chance of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that an average of 431 women are diagnosed with the disease every week.
If breast cancer is caught early, it can often be cured. That’s why it’s so important to watch for signs of potential problems.
There are three steps that can help. First off, become familiar with how your breasts look and feel, and be alert to changes that might signal a problem. Second, have your breasts checked by a health professional at least once every two years beginning at age 40. Third, talk to your doctor about mammograms. As a general rule, women aged 50 and older should get a mammogram every two years. If you have a history of breast cancer, your doctor may start testing you earlier.
Examining Your Breasts
Here’s a guide to what you should look for when examining your breasts:
- A change in the way your breast feels—a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm
- A change in the breast’s appearance—in its size, shape, or contour. The skin may look red and pitted like an orange peel, become dimpled, scaly, or inflamed. One area may seem different than the rest of the breast.
- A change in the nipple’s shape, position, or appearance—it may turn in or the skin around it may look scaly
- Discharge (leaking) from the nipple
There is no need to panic if you find something different. Breast cancer is only one of many reasons for changes in the breast. Pregnancy, menstruation, infections, or cysts can also cause similar changes. Even so, it’s important to see your doctor if you notice anything different in order to rule out breast cancer.
If you have questions about breast cancer, your Sobeys Pharmacist will be happy to answer them.