Detecting breast cancer: the signs, the risks

Posted at 7:31 PM, Oct 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-01 20:31:26-04

Ten years ago this month, doctors diagnosed now 56-year-old Nanette Chatham with breast cancer.

She fought back, but this July she found out the cancer spread to her lungs.

"After that there were several bad meetings with doctors and getting the news but, then the fight was on," said Chatham.

Chatham has this advice for those who think breast cancer will never touch them.

"You have got to know your own body, and if there is something that is different, you have to have it checked out, and you have to have your mammograms," said Chatham

"I still recommend that women start annual mammograms at age 40, there is a little bit of controversy right now about woman age 40 to 50, but I think that the current consensus is that it should be a meaningful discussion with your doctor," said Dr. Stephanie Graff with Menorah Medical Center.

Even before you get to the doctor, you can check yourself for breast cancer by performing monthly self-breast exams starting at the age of 21.

"That includes feeling the full area of your breast which extends up into your arm-pit, as well as looking at your breast for any changes that you might be able to see from the outside like dimpling or asymmetry from one side to another, nipple discharge things like that are unusual and you should talk about it with your doctor," said Dr. Graff.

You should also know your risks of being more susceptible to cancer.

"Never having had a baby or having delayed the birth of your first child to an older age, taking hormone replacement therapy, being obese, not exercising, smoking, excessive alcohol intake all increase the risk of breast cancer," said Dr. Graff.

As for Chatham she plans to keep fighting.

"I have a great family, I have a lot of support, and that's just the way I always tackle everything. It will work."


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