Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes around every October. Pink ribbons pop up on chip bags, billboards and grocery store cashiers. They’ll even ask for donations to a breast cancer foundation. Still, how much attention is given to that little pink ribbon?
It is recommended that women check their breasts once a month and at the same time each month. It’s important to check at the same time because of normal hormonal fluctuation within a woman’s body that can affect breast tissue, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Madison Birkeland, a senior studying recreation management, has never had a breast examination from her gynecologist before.
“I don’t officially check with a technique or anything,” Birkeland said. “No one has had cancer in my family. That’s another reason why I’m not too worried about it.”
Some people don’t think they need to check their breasts for bumps or other abnormalities because they are young, others because there is no family history. This can be dangerous thinking because breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“There is no effective breast cancer screening tool yet for women under 40. This is because most have dense breast tissue that prevents routine mammograms from being a useful screening tool,” according to Young Survival Coalition.
It is highly encouraged for women to do self-exams on their breasts. Once a woman knows her body well and can recognize when something isn’t right, she will notice if there is a change. This can include more than just bumps. They can be changes in the skin, pain, swollen breasts or unevenness that is outside the usual amount. Checking regularly will help women recognize these changes quicker and become more aware of their own bodies.
Justine Lyons, a junior studying healthcare administration, thinks it is very important to get checked for breast cancer regularly. She hasn’t been checked by a doctor yet but feels she knows her body well enough to recognize anything abnormal.
The next question is, how does one check themselves for abnormalities?
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc., the following are a few ways to check:
It’s important to report any changes to a doctor but don’t panic. Eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
Young people are not exempt from checking for breast cancer. There are about 12,150 cases of breast cancer in women under 40. More than 1,000 women under 40 die from breast cancer each year, and most young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer find the abnormalities themselves, according to the Young Survival Coalition.
Sophia Birkeland, a BYU-I alumna, went to the doctor to get checked after finding a lump in her armpit. They recommended a breast ultrasound to assess the situation. Everything was fine, but this is an example of someone being aware of their body and getting examined immediately after finding a bump.
“In college, people don’t think about checking themselves that often, but that could be made a habit so that if you run into something, it won’t be too bad yet,” Sophia Birkeland said.