Breast Cancer Awareness Month is in full swing and UTA Health Services is making sure students are aware of their options when it comes to checking their breasts.
Latoya Oduniyi, Health Promotions and Substance Abuse coordinator for Health Services, said for traditional college students it could be difficult to get a mammogram because most physicians don’t offer regular mammogram checks until age 35. She said she recommends pushing for mammogram screenings if the student’s family has a history of cancer.
“If you have a high genetic predisposition to getting breast cancer, that is something that you need to do on a regular basis so that you can catch it early,” Oduniyi said.
Although getting a mammogram can be uncomfortable, Oduniyi said, it does save lives.
“With the mammogram, things are done by a machine,” Oduniyi said. “There are pictures taken, almost like an X-ray. Your breasts are taken and lodged in between two plates and squished down. They are going to apply pressure and take images, and within those images they’re going to be able to see any density and damaged tissue.”
The closest thing to a mammogram is a self-examination, Oduniyi said.
“Most of the time when someone is doing the self-exam, they literally just rub their hand across their boob and say they don’t feel anything,” Oduniyi said. “Just like a mammogram, when you hear about them being full of pressure and uncomfortable, you have to squeeze. You really have to apply pressure to your breast.”
Oduniyi recommends laying down flat or raising one arm to perform the self-examination.
“Then the tissue in the muscles are stretched,” Oduniyi said. “Therefore, as you’re applying it’s not really moving around. You’re really getting to deeply feel the tissue and see if you feel any difference.”
Some students don’t ask about mammograms because they assume breast cancer doesn’t affect people who are younger. Communication junior Darling Bolanos has never asked for a breast exam from her doctor because of her age, she said.
“I think we know that breast cancer exists, but since we’re not really aware of it, unless we are directly affected by it, we tend not be scared,” Bolanos said. “We tend not to think we should get checked. It’s not as real to us at this age.”
Psychology sophomore Mariah Hall was affected by breast cancer when her grandmother was diagnosed with it. She still doesn’t give mammograms or self-exams much thought because she is so young, she said.
“I don’t really think about it at such a young age,” Hall said. “If you notice, when they talk about breast cancer, they don’t really focus it toward younger women.”
Oduniyi said there are people getting breast cancer younger and younger now, so it’s important to keep family history in mind.
“Unfortunately, college students feel invisible to a lot that goes on around them,” Oduniyi said. “You’re no longer invisible. It doesn’t really pick and choose. Breast cancer is one of those things where 1 in every 8 women are expected to get it. It’s everywhere.”