October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

During the month of October, we at Partners in Women’s Healthcare honor the extraordinary courage and strength of breast cancer survivors and offer our support and prayers to those currently battling this disease.  We also mourn for all of those cherished lives lost to breast cancer.  The families of these men and women are also in our thoughts and prayers.

Please join us on October 23rd when the providers and staff members at PIWH will join together in wearing PINK to celebrate these men and women whose lives have changed forever due to breast cancer. Breast Cancer can affect anyone-man or woman, younger or older, healthy or those with other health conditions.

Here are some Warning Signs of Breast Cancer to be on the lookout for:

  • New lump in breast or underarm (armpit);
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast;
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin;
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or breast;
  • Pulling in of nipple or pain in nipple area;
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood;
  • Any change in size or shape of breast;
  • Pain in any area of breast.

Different people have different symptoms of breast cancer. Some have no signs or symptoms at all. Breast cancer can be found by you at home, at a routine annual breast exam by your provider, on ultrasound, or with a routine mammogram. Remember though, some of these symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not always related to cancer.

 If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, call your PIWH provider at 717-737-4511 to schedule an appointment.

Most women have breast changes at different times during their lifetime:

  • Before or during your menstrual periods, your breasts may feel swollen, tender, or painful. You may also feel one or more lumps during this time because of extra fluid in your breasts
  • During pregnancy, your lumps may feel lumpier. This is because the milk glands are increasing in number and getting larger.
  • As you approach menopause, your hormone levels change. This can make your breasts feel tender and lumpier than they did before, even when you are not having your menstrual period.
  • If you are taking hormones like menopausal hormone replacement therapy your breasts may become denser.
  • After menopause, your hormone levels drop. You may stop having lumps, pain, nipple discharge that you had in the past.

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the following are recommended for screening and early detection of breast cancer:

  • Women of average risk of breast cancer, screening mammography is recommended every 1-2 years starting at age 40. If you have not started screening in your 40’s, you should start no later than age 50. Screening should continue until at least age 75,
  • Clinical breast exam (an exam performed by your provider) is recommended every 1-3 years for women age 25-39 and every year for women age 40 and older,
  • Breast self-awareness is important as it focuses on having a sense of what is normal for your breasts so that you can tell if there are changes—even small changes—and report them to your ob-gyn or other health care professional.

In 1990, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) created the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) to improve access to breast and cervical cancer screening to women in the United States. Through this program, the CDC helps low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women gain access to timely breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic, and treatment services. NBCCEDP also provides patient navigation services to help women overcome barriers and get timely access to quality care.

You may be eligible for free or low-cost screenings if you:

  • Have no insurance, or your insurance does not cover screening exams,
  • Your yearly income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level,
  • You are between 40 and 64 years of age for breast cancer screening,
  • You are between 21 and 64 years of age for cervical cancer screening,
  • Certain women who are younger or older may qualify for screening services.

To find out if you qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram and Pap test and where to get screened, call 1-800-215-7494.

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