Friends for Life can help us win the fight
The new Friends for Life program sponsored by Trident Health’s Breast Care Center recognizes the fight against breast cancer is one that we share and will have to win together. It also recognizes that something as simple as a telephone call or a text message can be a lifesaver.
To take part in the free program, you are encouraged first to find a family member, co-worker or friend who wants to do it, too. On the 5th of each month, you and your friend are pledged to remind each other by telephone, text or email to do a breast self-exam. To make sure you stay on track, you can sign up for a Friends for Life text reminder, which Live 5 News and Trident Health will send to your phone, also on the 5th of each month. (Go to Live5news.com and click on Health to register.)
“We know that self-exams are important. We know that clinical exams and mammograms are important. This just takes the awareness one step further,” says Penny Fanning, Trident Health breast care nurse navigator. “And by involving friends, there’s an added level of accountability and support.”
In addition to monthly self-exams, women who are 40 and older should have annual clinical breast exams (done by a healthcare provider) and annual mammograms. The Friends for Life program also offers text reminders about these important yearly visits.
Those in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam every one to three years. If you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about whether the recommendations are different for you.
Early detection and treatment of breast cancer can increase the odds for survival. Currently, 60 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed when the cancer is at a localized stage, before it has spread to other parts of the body, in which case the five-year survival rate is more than 98 percent, according to the American Cancer Society. Currently, a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is believed to be 1 in 8.
It is especially important for women ages 40 and over to do regular self-exams because they face greater risks than most younger women. But self-exams are an option for women starting in their 20s and can help establish the habit and allow women to become familiar with their breasts so they can spot changes easily. Around 7 percent of breast cancer cases affect women before age 40, according to the National Institutes for Health.
Tips for doing self-exams:
· Have a healthcare provider show you the correct way to do an exam during an office visit.
· Pick a pattern that works for you, either feeling the tissue of your breast by moving your fingers in a circular motion, up and down, or with a wedge approach. (The American Cancer Society recommends the up and down pattern.)
· Above all, make sure you cover the entire area of each breast, as well as the underarm tissue.
· Examine how the breasts look and include a check in the mirror.
Consult a healthcare professional if your self-exam reveals any of the following:
· Distinct single lumps that are either hard or soft
· Changes in skin texture or color
· Changes in breast shape or size
· Changes in nipple location or shape
· Breast sores that don’t heal
· Bloody or cloudy nipple discharge
For more information on Breast Care, contact Trident Health's Breast Care Center at 843-847-4883.
Callout: Sign up for a monthly free ‘Friends for Life’ text re