This past summer I went to Chicago, took a course, and obtained certification to teach women the MammaCare breast self-examination method. Before I went, I thought about my own comfort level, knowledge and skills on performing my own breast self-exam. Like most of you, I read pamphlets provided at local health fairs and mimicked what my physician performed when I went for a physical. I too was not sure what I was supposed to be feeling or if I was even doing it correctly. To me everything felt lumpy. After attending the training and becoming certified in the MammaCare Method®, I feel confident, knowledgeable, and skilled in order to teach women how to examine their own breast tissue for breast awareness.
The MammaCare Method® teaches women about breast awareness; how to become familiar with your own breast, know what is normal for you, and what to do if you detect a lump or change. I instruct women on basic breast anatomy, where cancer can be found, breast cancer risk factors, and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Instructions include the components of the MammaCare Method®, which are the importance of tactile skill building, and the “Five Ps.”
We all come equipped with the perfect palpation instrument, the pads of our fingers. The pads of our fingers have dense sensory receptors and require training so we can trust our tactile sense as much as our visual sense. Think about it, if fingers can read Braille, then we can teach fingers to find breast lumps smaller than golf balls. For example, take a dime and close your eyes, feel both sides and I bet you can tell which side is the heads or tails.
During an educational class on the MammaCare Method® for breast self-exam, we utilize specially made breast teaching models, which are tactually accurate with visible simulated lesions, to help teach the “Five Ps.” The “Five Ps” of MammaCare are palpation, pressure, perimeter, pattern and position. During a class, women learn more about each of the “P” components to become more confident in what they are feeling. Using the breast teaching models women will feel different textures, learning about nodularity, which is normal for breast tissue. No one has perfectly smooth breast tissue. The final aspect taught during the class is about visual inspection, where women are educated on what to look for and the various body positions to assume.
The MammaCare Method® is a scientifically validated method of breast examination. In 1974, Dr. Henry Pennypacker and Dr. Mark Goldstein conducted a research project funded by the National Cancer Institute at the University of Florida. The research questions that they sought an answer to were, “What is the smallest palpable lump?”, “What is the smallest change detectable by the human tactile sense?” and “What examination techniques achieve the greatest levels of detectability?”
The following breast cancer detection guidelines recommended by a MammaCare Specialist are:
- Breast Self-Exam monthly beginning at age 20
- Clinical Breast Exam by your Healthcare Provider every 3 years between 20 – 40 years and yearly after age 40
- Annual mammography beginning at age 40
If you have any additional questions about breast health or the MammaCare Method please contact Sheila Hermesmeyer RN, CBCN, CMS, Blessing Breast Center Navigator at the Blessing Breast Center.
Sheila.firstname.lastname@example.org or (217)223-1200 at Ext 4284
Early detection is the key! This means finding it before any signs or symptoms become apparent. Early detection of breast cancer can save lives.