National Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
Know the Warning Signs and Available Services
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among American women (outside of skin cancer) and more than 40,000 women die from breast cancer every year in the United States. Make sure you know the warning signs and how to conduct a breast self-exam.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old you should have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram. If you have a history of cancer or breast cancer in your family it’s especially important to be vigilant with screenings. it is recommended that you conduct a breast self-exam monthly.
Know the warning signs
Not all of the warning signs are the same for all women. A change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple is a warning sign, as well as nipple discharge. Other signs to look for are:
- Change in the size or shape of breast
- Lump, hard knot or thickening of the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Rash or an itchy sore on the nipple
- Pulling in of the breast, nipple or other parts of the breast
- Sudden nipple discharge
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away
Most health insurance plans are required to cover mammograms every one to two years for women beginning at age 40 with no out-of-pocket cost (like a co-pay, deductible, or co-insurance). However, if you don’t have insurance or cannot afford a screening there are free and low-cost services available. Take advantage of a program to get the help you need:
Alaska, low-cost screenings: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/wcfh/Pages/bchc/default.aspx
Hawaii, low-cost screenings: http://health.hawaii.gov/cancer/home/bcccp/
Montana, low-cost screenings: http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/Cancer/CancerScreening.aspx
Wyoming, free cancer screenings: https://health.wyo.gov/publichealth/prevention/cancer/
Across the country: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/nbcf-programs/patient-services
Breast cancer, like many other types of cancer, can spread to other parts of the body if not treated. Detecting breast cancer early (or any other cancer) will improve the odds for a cure and decrease the chances of death.
For more information and resources please visit the following links: