All women should examine their breasts once a month, ideally right after menses. Here is a link to a website that gives instructions on how to do a self breast exam. http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_6x_How_to_perform_a_breast_self_exam_5.asp

You should also have an annual breast exam by a doctor and a pap smear to screen for .   After age 40, women should be screened regularly- once yearly mammograms after age 40 is the standard of care in medicine. Of course, if you find a lump and are younger than 40, go see your naturopathic doctor and ask for further testing to make sure it is not . One of my friends had her MD tell her that she was too young to get and refuse to order a mammogram.  She ended up having inflammatory and was lucky to survive this invasive cancer.  She eventually got mastitis and went to urgent care where she finally got a mammogram and was diagnosed.  Take home message- be assertive and find a new doctor if the one you are seeing isn’t listening to you.

http://www.komenoregon.org/Programs_Grants/Mammograms.shtml is a link to help you find out how to get free breast screenings.  This program has had its funding reduced due to the economy, but it is still possible to get a free screening.  The beauty of this program is that if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, all of the treatment is paid for my the program.  One of my patients is in this program, which I referred her to, and all of her care is covered, thankfully.  She doesn’t have health insurance, so if it weren’t for this program she would be facing a medical bankruptcy as well as breast cancer.  If you have extra money to donate to worthy causes, the Komen Foundation is helping many women and could use your help.

Margaret Philhower, ND

www.drmargaret.org