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Agnesian HealthCare sends important breast health message during October
October 02, 2013

Women who receive mammograms in October at all three Agnesian HealthCare hospitals - Ripon Medical Center, St. Agnes Hospital and Waupun Memorial Hospital - will take home a pink carnation with a special message of caring.

The message encourages women to pass along the flower to another woman in their life, encouraging them to care for their own breast health through mammograms and other preventive measures.

During National Breast Health Month, Agnesian HealthCare is working to educate the community about the importance of preventive care relating to breast health. In fact, there are many steps individuals can take to detect breast cancer at an earlier, more treatable stage.

Routine care is the best way for individuals to keep themselves and their breasts healthy. Although detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages is the main goal of routine breast care, other benign conditions, such as fibrocystic breasts, are often discovered through routine care.

Breast self-exams (BSE) are an option for women ages 20 and older as a means of familiarizing themselves with their breasts so they can notice changes more easily. BSE should be done regularly at the same time every month. Regular BSE teaches you to know how your breasts normally feel so that you can more readily detect any change.

Changes may include:

  • Development of a lump
  • A discharge other than breast milk
  • Swelling of the breast
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Nipple abnormalities (for example, pain, redness, scaliness or turning inward)

If you notice any of these changes, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for evaluation.

A breast examination by a doctor or nurse trained to evaluate breast concerns should be part of a woman’s physical examination. Between ages 20 and 39, women should have a clinical breast examination (CBE) by a health professional every three years. After age 40, women should have a breast examination by a health professional every year.

A clinical breast examination by a doctor or nurse is very similar to the procedures used for breast self-examination. Women who routinely practice BSE will be prepared to ask questions and have their concerns addressed during this time.

Mammography is a low-dose X-ray of the breasts to find changes that may occur. It’s the most common imaging technique. Mammography can detect cancer or other problems before a lump becomes large enough to be felt, as well as assist in the diagnosis of other breast concerns. However, a biopsy is required to confirm the presence of cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends yearly screening for all women ages 40 and older. Women should talk with their doctors or other healthcare providers about their personal risk factors before making a decision about when to start getting mammograms or how often they should get them.

To learn more about breast health prevention, contact the Women’s Imaging departments at: Ripon Medical Center (748-0495); St. Agnes Hospital (926-5594); or Waupun Memorial Hospital (324-6547).

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