You don’t have to wait until you hit the “mammogram age” (ages 40 to 44, according to the American Cancer Society) to start checking your breast. As a matter of fact, the earlier you start the better. The CDC reports that Black women have higher rates of dying from breast cancer so early detection is key.
Doctors encourage women of all ages to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. According to the CDC, most breast cancers are found in women 50 years or older, but at least 11% of new cases are found in women younger than 45 years old.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides three ways on how a proper breast self exam should be performed:
- In the shower – while letting the hot water steam off the craziness of the day, use the flats of your three middle fingers and check your entire breast and armpit. Press down firmly. You would be checking for any lumps, knots, or abnormal changes.
- In the mirror – Yes, you’re beautiful. Take some time to look at your natural self and also make the most precious part of that beauty is looking well. Start with your arms at your side and then raise them over your head. Look for any changes in your nipples, swelling, puckering, or dimpling.
- Lay down- when you lay down on your back, it allows your breast to spread out along your chest wall. Use a pillow under your right shoulder and arm behind your head and with your left hand, cup your right breast and armpit. Squeeze your nipples and check for any discharge or lumps. Repeat for your left breast.
If you have a family history of breast cancer, the CDC recommends breast screenings.
Learn more about breast cancer and its impacts on Black women here
Knowledge is power, prevention is key. #KnowYourGirls