One of the biggest misconceptions about breast cancer is that it only happens to 'older women'. While only five percent of women in their 20s and 30s suffer from breast cancer, it is the most common cancer in this age group. Plus, it comes with its own set of complications. According to Healthline, for women under 40, breast cancer is often diagnosed in its later stages, when it tends to be more aggressive. This means the survival rate is lower and the recurrence rate is higher.
So while the risk may be low, why take your chances? It is important to educate yourself about breast cancer, its warning signs and how to give yourself a self-exam.
Cancer.org defines breast cancer as a type of cancer that starts in the breast. Cancer starts when cells begin to grow out of control. Breast cancer cells usually form a tumour that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. Breast cancer occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it too.
According to doctors, it is quite difficult for breast cancer to get diagnosed for women under 40 because their breasts are denser. This means that a tumour, if present, is not likely to show up in a mammogram.
The most common way to detect breast cancer in younger women is to keep a close check on the changes in your breasts. In fact, according to Healthline, a majority of young women diagnosed with breast cancer discover an abnormality themselves.
If you notice any changes in your breast, like changes in the skin, nipple discharge, pain, tenderness, or a lump or mass in the breast or underarm area, please report it immediately to a doctor.
Most medical experts say that there is no need to have a strict schedule for a breast self-exam if you are under the age of 40. The point is to be familiar with your breasts, so that if and when something is wrong, you will immediately be able to tell.
So check your breasts at a time when you feel comfortable--be it in the shower or just before getting dressed for work--just make sure you do it at least once a month. If you've never done a breast exam, here's what you need to do.
1. Stand in front of a mirror and raise one arm over your head
2. With your other hand, move your fingers in a sweeping motion from the outside to the inner breast, like the hands of a clock. Making your way around the clock so that the entire breast is examined.
Another popular way to examine your breasts is to use the pads of your three middle fingers to feel the entire breast, applying light, medium, and firm pressure. Make sure you check each breast twice, once while standing and once while lying down.
Follow this video if you're still confused:
If you do find something abnormal during your breast examination or have any doubts at all, we'd recommend making an appointment with your obstetricians/gynecologist immediately.
So remember to check your breasts often and thoroughly, because it's better to be safe than sorry.
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