Rochester, Minnesota - People commonly think of breast cancer when they hear about breast health, especially in October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But breast health encompasses so much more. Breast health begins with the awareness or sense of what is normal for your breasts.
Regular breast self-exams can help you learn what your individual breast tissue normally feels like. Once you know that, you will be better able to notice when something feels different and can decide if it’s time to consult your health care provider.
“Breast lumps are actually quite common, and most are not cancerous,” says Elizabeth Leschensky, a family nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System.
Leschensky says it’s important to contact your health care provider if you notice any of the following:
- You find a breast lump that is new or unusual.
- A new breast lump doesn’t go away after your next period.
- An existing lump seems to have changed.
- You notice skin changes on your breast, including redness, dimpling or puckering.
There are a number of screening and diagnostic tools providers use to monitor your breast health, including clinical breast exams, mammograms and breast ultrasounds.
Many women also have cosmetic breast health needs, whether it’s the need for breast reduction or a desire for augmentation. Breast surgery may help improve your self-image and self-confidence.
“If you’re considering either of these procedures, it’s important to consult with a plastic surgeon to understand what the surgery entails, as well as set realistic expectations,” says Leschensky. “The closer you work with your surgeon to establish achievable goals before surgery, the more likely you’re to be satisfied with your results.”
In general, Leschensky says you can keep your breasts healthy with healthy habits, such as not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.