The start of the fall season means more than just cute maternity sweaters and pumpkin chai lattes. It’s also about educating women about the reality of breast cancer and what steps to take for early detection.
Each October, many unite to raise awareness about the second leading cause of cancer death in women around the world. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we urge moms-to-be to wear pink and to share information about this disease.
Breast Cancer Prevention
While there is no cure for breast cancer, there are ways for women to lower their risk of the disease. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding the use of cigarettes and alcohol can help prevent breast cancer and promote overall better health. Breastfeeding is also believed to play a role in breast cancer prevention.
Breast cancer often has no symptoms which makes regular breast cancer screenings all the more important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual breast cancer screenings starting around age 40. Women between the ages of 45 and 49 should also undergo mammograms each year.
Tips for Performing a Breast Self-Exam
Breast self-exams are an important screening tool in the early diagnosis of breast cancer. Performing a monthly self-breast exam can help you get to know the shape and texture of your breast so that you are able to more easily recognize changes that seem abnormal.
When performing a breast self-exam, remember the following tips:
- • Take your time. Do not rush a breast self-examination as you may miss something. It may take several minutes to thoroughly check the breasts for signs of abnormal changes.
- • Use the pads of your fingers. Avoid using the tips of your fingers as this can make it more difficult to get good results. Instead, use the pads of the three middle fingers for the exam.
- • Use different pressure levels. Start the exam by applying light pressure to the breasts to feel the tissue closest to the skin. You will then want to apply medium pressure and finally, firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the ribs and chest.
- • Follow a pattern. To avoid missing any areas when performing a breast self-exam, follow a pattern. For example, you may want to work in a clockwise motion around the breast.
It’s not uncommon to feel small lumps or other changes in the breast, especially at certain times during your menstrual cycle. Make an appointment with your doctor if you find anything unusual, such as a hard knot or lump near your underarm, dimples or ridges on the skin of the breast, warmth, redness or other signs of infection, bloody discharge from the nipple, itching, sores or rashes, or other concerning changes to how the breast looks or feels.
Creative Ways to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month
There are many ways that moms-to-be can show their support during breast cancer awareness month.
1. Participate in a fundraising walk. Walks are held throughout the country during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Slide on a comfy pair of sneakers and support a good cause.
2. Wear pink every day. There are 31 days in October and 31 opportunities to wear your cutest pink clothes and accessories.
3. Collect hats and scarves. Many women lose their hair during chemo treatment. Ask for donations of new hats and scarves (or knit/crochet them yourself) and donate them to your local chemo center.
4. Hand out pink ribbons. Pink ribbons serve as a reminder to continue spreading the message about the seriousness of breast cancer.
5. Participate in a maternity shoot. Rent a maternity dress in pink from Mama Bump Rentals and have professional maternity photos taken to commemorate the occasion. Share the photos and the message on social media.
The fight against breast cancer requires immediate action and awareness. Let’s support one another and promote awareness throughout the month of October and all year long.