Breast Lumps and Pain (cont.)
Breast Lumps and Pain Prevention
Once you reach age 20, you should begin to do a monthly
breast self-exam. The best time to examine yourself is about seven to eight days
after your period begins. If you have passed menopause, do it the same time each
month. If you find any suspicious masses, report them immediately to your health
care professional for testing. Tumors found during your monthly self-exam are
usually in an early stage. You have a better outcome and a higher long-term survival in these cases
if cancer is found. Most lumps are not cancer.
- Performing regular breast self-exams will allow you to familiarize yourself
with your body and alert you when a change in your usual breast tissue is found.
- Repeating the breast exam and completing a pain diary for a few consecutive
menstrual cycles will also help establish whether your breast pain is cyclic or
- The American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer
recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Also, Women in their 20s and 30s
should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic health exam by a
health professional, preferably every three years. After age 40, women should have a
breast exam by a health professional every year.
- If you are younger than 40 and in a high-risk category (for example, many
women in your family have breast cancer), you should ask your doctor about how
early you should have your first mammogram.
- Sometimes mastitis is unavoidable. Some women are more susceptible than
others, especially those who are breastfeeding for the first time.
M Ruby Alvi, MD, CCFP, MHSc
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