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Breast cancer and you: Prevention begins now


Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are surrounded by pink lids, pink cereal, pink shirts, pink jerseys ... What’s not pink during the month of October?

While many of us have been affected in some way -- perhaps the diagnosis of a family member or friend -- it’s important for every college woman to know what steps she should be taking now in her personal fight against cancer.

According to Susan G. Komen for a Cure, here are steps that women as young as 18 need to begin.

Know your risk. Some of us know who, if anyone, in our family has been diagnosed with breast cancer. But if not, find out. Then talk to your doctor about your personal risk.

Get screened. Have a clinical breast exam every three years starting at the age of 20. While mammograms aren’t usually necessary, women still need screening. Early detection is important, and college-age women can be diagnosed.

Know what is normal for you. It’s not something many of us want to think about, but know your breasts and see your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes:
- Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area.
- Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast.
- Change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin.
- Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple.
- Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast.
- Nipple discharge that starts suddenly.
- New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away.

Finally, make healthy lifestyle choices. Now is the time to eat right and maintain a healthy weight. If you’re not exercising, begin now. Limit alcohol intake. Now is the time to develop good habits that will reduce your risk later in life.

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