Although its incidence rate has declined over recent years, breast cancer continues to be the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Canadian women. Our best defence is prevention, and it’s important to make sure our teenage girls have the knowledge they need to be proactive about their breast health as they get older. We’ve got some pointers to help you ensure your daughter is in the know.
Open the lines of communication. Sometimes young women can have difficulty asking questions for fear of coming off as naïve, so it’s your job as the parent to talk to her by initiating discussions, and being there with the answers to the questions she may have about her breasts. If you’re unsure of how to approach the topic, try buying a book about it so that you can read up on it together, like Taking Care of our “Girls” - A Breast Health Guide for Girls, Teens, and In-Betweens (Marisa C. Weiss, M.D., and Isabel Friedman).
Give her the knowledge she needs. Talk to your daughter about how breasts come in different shapes and sizes, and about the changes that could be a sign of trouble. There are also a lot of common myths about what could cause breast cancer. Make sure that you know the facts, so you can share them with her, too. Without getting into detailed statistics, you can still give her a rough picture of how common breast cancer is, so that she grasps how important it is to be proactive about her breast health now and later on.
Get her to do a monthly breast self-exam. Getting familiar with her breasts is the only way your daughter will learn to note any changes in her breast size, texture or appearance in the future. One way of helping her remember to do it is to have her sign up for our Monthly BSE Email Reminder.
Set a good example. If you only rarely do your breast self-exam and don’t see your gynaecologist yearly, then don’t expect your daughter to take her breast health seriously now or later on, either. Set an example by adopting healthy habits and being proactive about protecting your breasts, especially if there is a history of it in your family.
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