October dedicated to becoming aware of breast cancer

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 17, 2002

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Therefore, I am going to bring you the best possible information on how to take charge of your life by using the best breast care that you can.

I want to also correct a statement that I made in the &uot;Off The Wall Column&uot; in Wednesday’s edition about taking Vitamin E for breast pain. I was advised that this vitamin is not good for everyone; therefore, tell your doctor about your breast pain and follow his directions. If you can take this vitamin and your pain does stop, it does not mean that you should stop monthly breast exams and taking a mammogram test on an annual basis when you are at the age to do so. Continue to use these two very important procedures to stay safe and healthy. Information from the American Cancer Society is as follows:

Sometimes cancer announces its presence with symptoms that you can watch for. The most common one is a thickening or lump in the breast.

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Starting at age 20 you should examine your breast every month so you’ll know how they usually feel. That way you’ll be more likely to notice any changes like a lump. However, don’t worry – most lumps and changes are not cancerous, but tell your doctor just to be sure.

As you get older look for any changes like color, size, or shape in moles and freckles. If you see any changes, show them to your doctor.

Learn who in your family has had cancer and let your doctor know.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following:

Women over 40 should get an annual mammogram; obtain an annual clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional; and perform monthly breast self-exams.

Women 20-39 should obtain a clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional every three years; and perform monthly breast self-exams.

Information on the digital mammogram machine and breast cancer survivors will be included in future articles.

If anyone is interested in sharing their breast cancer history with readers, call Evelyn Wall at 934-9615. The more that the public knows about this disease, the more that they will be prepared to fight it.