With routine breast care, you’re more likely to find breast cancer early. A preventive care plan is important because any concerns can be addressed with the best chance of successful treatment. Make an appointment with a WVU Medicine provider to determine a preventive care plan that works for your individual risk factors and wellness. WVU Cancer Institute's Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, MD, provides tips to help you maintain optimal breast health.
1. Be self-aware about your breasts.
You know your body best, and it’s important to be aware of how your breasts normally look and feel, so you’ll notice any changes more easily. See a provider right away if you notice any of these changes in your breasts:
- Leaky fluid or discharge (other than breastmilk)
- Nipple pain, redness, flaking, or the nipple turning inward
- Skin irritation or dimpling
Breast self-exams are not recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society because they may not lower the risk of breast cancer fatality. Ask your healthcare provider about whether breast self-exams may be beneficial for your individual health needs.
2. Receive a clinical breast exam.
As part of your regular medical care, a healthcare provider or nurse should examine your breasts for any lumps or areas of concern. If you are between ages 25 to 39 and at average risk of breast cancer, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a clinical breast exam every one to three years. After age 40, women need a breast exam by a healthcare provider each year.
3. Schedule a mammogram.
During a mammogram, a low-dose x-ray of your breasts is taken to find cancer or other problems before a lump develops. The WVU Cancer Institute recommends a yearly screening mammogram starting at age 40 if you are at average risk of breast cancer. As with everything regarding your personal well-being, please ask your primary care provider about the risks and benefits of breast cancer screening, when you should start getting mammograms, and how often you will need them.
WVU Medicine offers 3D mammography, which is the best way to detect breast tumors with clearer images and fewer additional tests. The WVU Cancer Institute provides mammograms throughout the state with Bonnie's Bus, a mobile mammography unit. Check the calendar to see when Bonnie’s Bus is visiting your town.
For questions or to make an appointment, call 855-WVU-CARE / Visit WVUMedicine.org for more about services.