Breast health is an important part of preventive care. From staying healthy in general to talking to your doctor if you find a lump, education is key in keeping on top of it. The more you know, the easier it is to take a pro-active approach to breast health—here are five things we recommend.
1. Find out about your family history. Talk to your mom, sister and grandmother about breast and ovarian cancer. If they’ve had it, make sure to inform your doctor.
2. Get breast exams as recommended. If you’re between the ages of 23 and 39 get a breast exam every 1 to 3 years. A breast exam can be done in your doctor or nurse’s office and is a quick examination of your breasts, armpits and the area around your collarbone. If you are 40 or older, get a breast exam and mammogram once a year.
We do not provide mammography services at Planned Parenthood, but if we feel it’s needed, we order one for you — just like any other doctor’s office. We will refer you to a specialist we know and trust for a mammogram or specialized testing you may need. We will follow up with you to make sure you get the care you need.
3. Make healthy choices. An overall healthier body is less likely to develop breast cancer. By limiting alcohol and tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and breastfeeding if you can, you’ll reduce your cancer risk.
4. Stay breast aware. We don’t recommend routine self-breast exams, but we do ask patients to stay aware of how their breasts look and feel. Breasts are lumpy and unique by nature so you’re the best judge of whether things change. If you see or feel something new or unusual, make an appointment to let your doctor know. Find out more about breast changes here.
5. Make breast health a part of the conversation. We encourage you to share these tips and talk about your own breast health with family, friends and co-workers so they can take care of their breasts too. Don’t forget about the men in your life. Although it’s much less common, they can develop breast cancer as well.
At Planned Parenthood, our health care providers performed more than 480,000 breast exams last year, but we don’t stop there. As mentioned, if we find something unusual, we’ll refer you to a place that provides ultrasounds, mammograms and even genetic testing—many times at low-to no-cost.
To make an appointment, call 1.888.743.PLAN or click here.