10 Tips for Breast Health

Nurse mammogram machine

Every woman is at risk for breast cancer, and men are not immune either. Michelle Pry Isacson, MSN, WHNP-BC, APN, maternal-child nursing and informatics instructor at Chamberlain College of Nursing in Addison, Ill., provides the following proactive tips to monitor breast health and help reduce your risk of breast cancer.

1. Conduct monthly self-breast exams so you know what is normal in your breast tissue

2. Get an annual clinical breast exam

3.Schedule routine mammograms

4.Maintain a healthy weight

5.Be physically active most days of the week

6. Limit alcohol intake

7. Quit smoking

8. Limit hormone replacement therapy to the lowest dose for the shortest period of time

9. Eat a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat

10. Limit exposure to chemicals/pollutants that may be in the environment, the foods you eat and products you use

Additionally, breast cancer screening exams allow for early identification of breast cancer and can increase your chance of survival. Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer, as it can detect cancer before signs and symptoms – such as a lump – are present.

Current recommendations are for women ages 20 to 39 to do monthly breast self-exams, with a clinical breast exam at least every three years. Women 40 years of age and older should conduct monthly breast self-exams, annual clinical breast exams and annual mammograms.

Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any of the following breast cancer symptoms:

  • Breast lump/mass or change in size of one breast
  • Skin changes (swelling, thickening, redness, scaly, warmth, dimpling, indentation or other visible changes) in one breast
  • Nipple changes (appearance, retraction, discharge)
  • Swelling or mass in the armpit

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