- A close relative was diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer at 45 or younger
- Additional breast health problems or have been treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood
- Have changes in breast cancer genes (BRCA 1 and BRACA2)- genotyping exists – please consult your physician
The social determinants of health contribute to the barriers of early detection and prevention. Lack of access to health care, uninsured, fear, and health literacy further impact early screening and detection. Clinical practice guidelines on screening tools and mammography may vary by experts. Generally, mammography is recommended between ages of 40-55 depending on level of risk. The value or need for Clinical breast examinations are another option that varies by experts. Variance is due to the low volume of research, outcome data, and proficiency of examiner. Ultimately, the screening method used should be a decision between the patient and the medical provider. Regardless of the recommendations, it is important to be familiar with your breasts and how they normally look and feel to be aware of abnormal signs. Symptoms or signs of abnormal breast health include the shape or size of the breast, pain in breast, liquid discharge other than breast milk.
How to Perform a Clinical Breast Self- Examination
If a decision a made for the patient to perform a self- breast examination, the following steps are outlined:
- In the Shower- Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center. Also check your armpit area. Check for lumps, thickening, or hardened knot. Seek medical attention for any noticeable changes.
- In Front of a Mirror- Visually inspect your breast with your arm at your sides and then with arms raised overhead. Look for changes in the contour, swelling, or dimpling of the skin. With palms on your hips, press firmly to flex your chest muscles.
This article was submitted by Roxanne Smith, Target II Women’s Healthcare and Wellness committee member