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  • Keep up with your screenings for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    by Shelly Donaldson, RN

    Here it is October again! The cool crisp nights and the leaves changing colors, wait a minute … why everything is PINK! What is this all about? October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and you will see in stores, shopping malls, on our food packaging and on the street that everything has suddenly turned pink.

    It is all about saving lives. It is about the fight to find a cure for breast cancer and in doing so helping to find treatments and a cure for other cancers as well. This October I would like to review what the latest recommendations are from the American Cancer Society to help you wade through all the conflicting information in the news and to help you be on track with your breast cancer screenings.

    Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.

    Recent research suggests that BSE plays a small role in women finding their own breast lumps. ACS recommends “know what is normal” for you. This means not only being aware of the lumps and bumps that are normal for you but looking for any skin changes (redness, rash, dimpling or inverted nipples). Knowing what is normal helps you know when something is abnormal. Be sure that you report any changes to your health care provider right away.

    Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) every three years by their health care professional.

    CBE, done by a health care professional, gives women a chance to speak to their providers about any problems or changes that they have noticed. It is also a good time to ask about BSE techniques and to discuss risk factors that may increase your chance of getting breast cancer.

    Women who are age 40 and older should have a mammogram yearly and continue to do so as long as they are in good health.

    Current research has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s and beyond. Mammograms should continue as long as a woman is in good health and age alone should not be a reason to stop having mammograms.

    Mammograms have limitations but it is still the best screening tool that we have to find breast cancers early, when they are treatable. Mammograms alone are not enough. Women need to use all the tools (BSE, CBE, mammograms) in their arsenal and especially their biggest and best tool, personal self-awareness to help maintain good health.

    Schedule your mammogram

    Call 253-792-6220 or toll-free 1-866-268-7223 to schedule your mammogram at one of our three locations:

    • MultiCare Gig Harbor Medical Park
      4545 Pt. Fosdick Drive N. W.
      Gig Harbor, WA
    • MultiCare Covington Medical Center
      17700 S. E. 272nd St.
      Covington, WA
    • MultiCare Auburn Imaging
      202 Cross Street S. E.
      Auburn, WA

    Shelly Donaldson, RN, is a Nurse Navigator for Breast Health Services at MultiCare’s Covington Clinic with 10 years of oncology nurse experience. Donaldson provides comfort and support in guiding patients and their families along the often difficult pathway of a cancer diagnosis. She is available for education, training and speaking engagements in South King County and Pierce County. Contact her at michelle.donaldson@multicare.org

    Posted on Oct 4, 2012 in Covington, Gig Harbor, Cancer, Women's Health