by Health Educator, Maggie Spicer
You may notice some changes when you log into WellSteps
after ringing in the New Year. In 2018 Healthy Lifestyles will be modifying one
of the ways you can earn points: monthly self-exams. Long-time participants may
be surprised to see this change, but don’t fret! You will still be able to earn
points for practicing what we have dubbed self-awareness.
Beginning in January, when you track your monthly points you
will no longer see this option:
"I completed my monthly testicular or breast self-exam".
Instead you will be asked to check off the following:
"I spent 15 minutes practicing self-awareness to learn what’s
normal or identify changes in my breasts/testes, mouth and skin (including
discoloration or moles)."
This new WellSteps activity will earn you a total of 10
Our team strives to keep us updated with the latest
recommendations when it comes to our health, and cancer screening is no
different. We would like to encourage everyone to not only notice changes when it
comes to breast and testicular cancer, but all aspects of our body. This new
phrasing does not exclude monthly self-exams. Instead, it aims to increase
self-awareness of your whole body. Continue reading for specific
recommendations regarding breast, testicular, skin and mouth cancer.
If you participated in Paint the County Pink this year, then
you are probably aware that the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the US
Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) no longer recommend monthly
to the ACS, most breast cancer is detected when a symptom is found during
usual activities like bathing or dressing. As an alternative, they now
recommend all women be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and
report any changes to their doctor right away. Click here for a list
of warning signs and symptoms.
Unfortunately, current recommendations for testicular
self-exams are less clear. Like breast cancer, the USPSTF
does not recommend self-exams for testicular cancer because most cases are
discovered accidentally by patients or their partners. For this reason, the ACS
does not have an official recommendation regarding self-exams. It is important
to be aware of testicular cancer and talk to your physician right away if you
find a lump. If you are at increased risk of developing this form of cancer, it
may be beneficial to perform monthly self-exams. Click here
Both the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Academy of
Dermatology recommend checking
your skin from head-to-toe about once a month. Although roughly 20%
Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, it is very treatable if
detected early. You should be familiar with the warning signs of skin cancer,
which can be found here.
You may also want to consider keeping a body
map that you can update each time you check your skin can help you
recognize any changes that need to be reported to your doctor. In addition, it
is always important to take the proper precautions when having fun in the sun
like wearing sunblock or protective clothing.
Like other forms of cancer, screening for oral cancers
increases survival rates and if caught early the chances of successful
treatment are high. Certain lifestyle factors can increase your risk of
developing mouth cancer, like tobacco use or alcohol consumption. Oral cancer
can occur anywhere in the mouth, including lips, tongue and throat. It is
detected by a variety of symptoms, which can be found here.
If you experience one or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks it is
time to call your doctor or dentist, especially if you use tobacco products of
As you can see, it is wise to be familiar with your body so
that you can easily notice changes. You also probably noticed that each of
these cancer recommendations highlighted the importance of understanding your
personal risk factors and working closely with your doctor. At Healthy
Lifestyles, our goal is to empower you to make the best decisions regarding
your health. Not only can you increase your body self-awareness, but you can
also earn more points while doing so!
For more information visit:
American Cancer Society Recommendations
Breast Cancer Warning Signs
Testicular Cancer Recommendation
Testicular Cancer Early Detection
Skin Cancer Foundation Skin Check
Skin Cancer Foundation Early Warning Signs
Mayo Clinic Oral Cancer