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Did You Know?

  • In the US, breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 35 and 54 years old.
  • Excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the US.
  • Women in the US have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.

There are many "myths" about breast cancer:

Myth: Because there is no cure for breast cancer, it does not matter when I am diagnosed — I will die from it anyway.
Truth: Early detection leads to early diagnosis and this leads to early treatment that may increase your chance of survival, and length of survival after the time of diagnosis.

Myth: No one in my family has had breast cancer, so there is no way I can get it.
Truth: Approximately 80% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease.

Myth: I am in my twenties or thirties. I don't have to worry about breast cancer until I am at least 40.
Truth: Young women are not immune to breast cancer. In fact, if you are currently 20 years old, the probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1 in 2,500. If your current age is 30 years old, the probability of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years is 1 in 250! (From American Cancer Society, Surveillance Research, 1997)

Early Detection Guidelines for Breast Cancer*

In 2003, the ACS changed its early detection guidelines for young women. The ACS position was based on a study conducted outside of the United States that showed that breast self exams do not necessarily "save lives." However, due to the large number of young women known to the Ribbons of Pink Foundation (ROP) who indeed discovered their breast cancer tumors by performing Breast Self-Exams (BSE), ROP encourages young women to follow the early detection guidelines supported by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation which recommends a 3-step approach to breast cancer screening that includes, depending upon a woman's age, a combination of mammography, clinical breast exams and breast self-exams.

1. Monthly breast self-exam beginning by age 20.
2. Clinical breast exam at least every 3 years beginning at age 20, and annually from age 40 on.
3. Annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40.

Women with a family history of breast cancer or other concerns about their personal risk should consult with a health care provider. Screening tests may need to be done more often and/or started earlier than usual. As part of a total approach to breast health, it is also important that women become familiar with their own bodies; play an active role in their own health; and develop a close partnership with their health care providers.

*Source, www.komen.org.

How Do I Perform a Breast Self-Exam (BSE)?

Ideally, you should perform your monthly BSE the week following your menstrual cycle. You should examine your breasts while lying down (to flatten the breast tissue for an even surface), when you are in the shower (the soap helps make the surface slippery and smooth) and while standing in front of the mirror (to visualize any changes).

Lying Down

  • To examine your right breast, place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right hand behind your head. Your breast surface should be as flat and even as possible.
  • Use the pads of your three middle fingers of your left hand (not your finger tips) to examine your right breast.
  • Press firmly on your right breast tissue and run your fingers over your entire breast, including your under arm area and up to your collar bone area.
  • Check for lumps or areas of thickening.
  • Do not pick up your hand until you complete the exam.
  • Now examine your left breast by placing the pillow under your left shoulder and putting your left hand behind your head. Use your right hand to examine the left breast and repeat the same steps as with the right breast exam.
In the shower
  • Use the same technique as you do lying down, only while standing in the shower.
  • Remember to check your entire breast and underarm area.
  • Use your right hand for your left breast and your left hand for your right breast.
In Front of a Mirror
  • Stand in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides and look for any changes in your breasts.
  • Raise your hands above your head and look for any changes in your breasts.
  • Press your hands firmly against your hips, flex your chest muscles, and look for any changes in your breasts.
  • Specific changes you should report include dimpling, redness or swelling, and changes in the nipple.
  • Gently squeeze each nipple between your index finger and thumb to check for nipple discharge.
Contact your physician as soon as possible if you notice any nipple discharge, have pain or tenderness (that is not associated with your menstrual cycle) and any other changes or irregularities abnormal for you.

There are three methods to use to examine your breasts with the pads of your fingers. It does not matter which one you choose, but you should use the same method every time.

Circle Up & Down Line Wedge

Email: info@ribbonsofpink.org

For contributions/donations, please send to:

Attn: Ribbons of Pink Foundation Fund
c/o Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
1055 Broadway, Suite 130
Kansas City, MO 64105

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All rights reserved.