Ask Ali: What should I know about breast cancer?

October is a month known for its color. From the bright orange pumpkins to the warm yellow and red leaves, this month is far from dull. But aside from all of the classic autumnal tones, October is known for one other color:


Since 1985, October has been recognized in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Those 31 days every year are dedicated to spreading awareness, knowledge, support and resources for all women.

One of the biggest goals of the campaign is to ensure every woman is aware of what to do in order to make sure any signs of breast cancer are spotted immediately. Breast cancer is a disease of the tissue that affects approximately one in eight women nationwide. However, when detected early, there is a 100 percent survival rate.

The easiest way to make sure anything abnormal is detected early is to administer Breast Self-Examinations, or BSEs, as regularly as possible.

The process of giving yourself a BSE is neither long nor difficult. According to the Feminist Women’s Health Center of California, you only need to follow these six steps:

1) Examine your breasts in front of a mirror. Check at all angles for any visible abnormalities.

2) Hold hands above your head, gripping each other. Check again in the mirror for any abnormalities such as lumps or puckers sticking out.

3) Put your hands on your hips and hunch forward, checking again in the mirror for any of the aforementioned signs.

4) Raising your left arm, use the other hand to rub over the left breast, pressing firmly (but not roughly) in circular motions to feel for any masses or bumps in the skin. Make sure to cover the entire surface area of the breast, including the nipple and the area where the breast meets the armpit. Repeat this step with your right arm and breast.

5) Squeeze each nipple gently and examine the area, looking specifically for any types of discharge.

6) Repeat steps 4 and 5 while laying flat on your back. Laying this way creates a flatter surface of the breast and can make it easier to spot anything unusual.

It is recommended that all women, regardless of age, make a habit of giving themselves this exam on a monthly basis to ensure that nothing goes unnoticed.

If you do notice something out of the ordinary upon doing this exam, it is important that you notify your doctor immediately. If you are a student of West Chester University, going to the Student Health Center might be a good place to start, as they can refer you to specialists who can give you the treatment you need.

While it may not be something that crosses your mind often as a young person, it is imperative that you take your health seriously. The more often you check, the more likely you are to detect any issues.

So put your monthly BSEs on your calendars, ladies; your breasts will thank you later!

Ali Kochik is a first-year student English major. AK908461@wcupa.edu

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