It’s any woman’s worst nightmare. You’re in the shower washing your body with soap and singing along to your favorite new tune when you come across a noticeable lump in your right breast. Panic sets in. Is it a bruise? A cyst? You’re still in your 20s or 30s–the picture of youth and health. So should you really be concerned? According to the Young Survival Coalition: Young Women Facing Breast Cancer Together, women ages 15 to 34 die more frequently from breast cancer than any other cancer.
In dedication of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take a moment to make sure you are properly informed about breast cancer and self-examinations.
First thing to remember: Don’t Stress! If you’ve discovered a lump, you may develop anxiety over the possibility of getting diagnosed with breast cancer. But at the same time, you’re putting an enormous amount of worry and stress on your body, which can weaken the immune system and cause other health issues. The statistics prove that developing breast cancer at a younger age is possible, but very unlikely. According to Dr. Colette Ho, a New York City Internal Medicine Practitioner, the odds of a woman under age 30 being diagnosed with breast cancer are about as likely as the diagnosis of a 74-year-old man. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions at a younger age, especially if you have a lineage of breast cancer in your family.
Doctor’s #1 recommendation: Self-Exam. Yes, that’s right. Fondling your own breasts is the most important preventative measure a woman under the age of 40 can practice. A self-exam should be preformed in the comfort of your own home, preferably one week after your menstrual period begins.
Other than the self-exam, the best way for a healthy young woman to reduce the risk of breast cancer is to exercise regularly, reduce stress and drink alcohol in moderation (basically, everything you should be doing anyway!).
So, how do you protect the ta-tas with age? The same advice goes for 20 and 30-somethings – self-exams, eat right and get your body moving. As for 40-somethings, diet and exercise becomes more mandatory rather than recommended. Studies show most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women between the ages of 40 and 75.
As you start recognizing the extensive amount of pink ribbons waving around for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, take a moment to appreciate your healthy – still somewhat naturally lifted – breasts. Practice your self-exams, investigate your family history and don’t hesitate seeking medical advice if you feel a non-organic lump!