Happy October! It is officially breast cancer awareness month, and we’re going out of our way to spread the word about breast cancer. During the pandemic, many women put off their annual mammogram, which has caused a significant increase in the number of women who are getting their mammogram for the first time in a few years. Unfortunately, since yearly mammograms are usually the key to detecting the cancer early, many women are ending up with more serious diagnoses than normal. This is why we decided to put together this guide for you, everything you need to know about breast cancer screenings! Believe it or not, whether you’ve lost your job, lost your insurance, or simply haven’t been to the doctor for a few years, there are still many ways that screenings can help! Read on to learn more.
Why Are Breast Cancer Screenings So Important?
When it comes to breast cancer, or any kind of cancer for that matter, there is one thing that all healthcare professionals agree on. The earlier you catch it, the better your chances for survival are. There are many stories of women who have found abnormalities in self-screenings only months after a clean mammogram. Therefore, breast cancer screenings are very important in order to catch the disease early, and also to give you more treatment options.
What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance?
Interestingly, there are a large number of non-profit organizations, institutes, and associations out there that provide mobile clinics and mammograms to individuals who have low or no income, or even individuals who are uninsured. The Google search that seems to provide the best results is “free 3d mammograms near me.”
The idea is to get screened, at least yearly, regardless of your income. Don’t give in to the idea that just because you don’t have health insurance that you can’t get screened. There are options available.
What Type of Breast Cancer Screening Options Do I Have?
The summary of this article is going to be repetition, and early detection. Therefore, it is imperative that you do self-exams monthly, and after the age of 40 in general, you have a yearly mammogram. If you have a higher risk of breast cancer, your physician may recommend that you start earlier than 40 years of age, or even that you have a mammogram more than once a year.
There are two different types of mammograms available today, the traditional mammogram where your breast tissue is compressed between two plates and then x-rayed, and the 3D mammogram which is also called digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT.) The DBT is much less uncomfortable and is actually more sensitive to abnormalities, although it isn’t quite available as a standard in all hospitals, or clinics just yet.
How to Do a Self-Exam for Breast Awareness
A breast self-examination starts with not only trying to feel changes in the density, size, or shape of your breasts, but also whether you’re able to see any differences. Any noticeable differences in your breasts should be discussed with your physician immediately. In order to incorporate a self-exam into your routine, try to do it at the same time that you do something else. For example, the last day of your menstrual cycle, or when you pay a certain bill. If you tie this habit to one you already have, then you’ll have less of a chance of forgetting it.
- Step 1 – Ask your doctor for a demonstration, many women find discussing the instructions and techniques with their doctor very helpful.
- Step 2 – Visually examine your breasts by placing both hands on your hips. Check for puckering, dimpling, inverted nipples, changes in size, shape, symmetry, or color. Then do the same inspection with your arms raised over your head.
- Step 3 – Either while you’re in the shower, or laying down, use the pads of your three middle fingers in a pattern that moves towards your nipple. Imagine the shape of a pie over your breast and examine each slice.
- Step 4 – Take your time and don’t rush. It can take time to carefully examine for lumps or changes in your breasts.
Schedule Your Yearly Mammogram
Whether you have insurance or not, whether you have a preferred clinic or doctor or not, once you turn 40 years old, remember to start scheduling your yearly mammogram. One of the reasons for breast cancer awareness month is to remind you to schedule that appointment, this screening, in conjunction with your self-examination will help you catch anything that arises as early as possible so that you have more options for treatment and a greater opportunity for survival.
Don’t forget that if you have a loved one who has currently been diagnosed with cancer of any kind that as a family caregiver, you need to do the best that you can to stay healthy! Don’t forget to take time out of your caregiving schedule for your yearly well-woman visits and mammograms. If you have trouble getting away from caregiving responsibilities, contact us for respite care services, we can take over for a few hours so you can take care of yourself. Our Charlotte caregivers are always available to provide information, answer questions, and give you resources. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.