I've always been committed to teaching my daughters factual information about their bodies and good health. Dr. Marisa C. Weiss, breast oncologist and founder of Breastcancer.org., and her daughter, Isabel Friedman, a graduate of Friends Central School in the Philadelphia area, believe in doing the same.
Their new book, titled "Taking Care of Your 'Girls,'" is a resource moms may use when talking with their daughters about breast development and breast health. Based on a survey of more than 3,000 girls and their moms, the book separates myth from fact about breast cancer, which the authors state almost never occurs in girls.
In addition to talking about breast health, this mother-daughter book includes comments from candid respondents to the survey. These narratives help teens learn how their peers deal with self-image and fears regarding breast health.
Linda Kay Goodwin
One of the nice features of this book is how the information is provided. Each topic is earmarked in pink, breaking up tough medical terminology in a way that makes it easy to understand. Moms will appreciate topics like breast development, breast size and shape, checking for breast changes, stretch marks, breakouts, rashes, lumps, cysts, thick areas, pain, self-image, teasing and bras.
The foundation of the book is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of research. In that research, Weiss found that more than 25 percent of girls have perceived a normal change in their breast to be breast cancer; and more than 20 percent of girls think breast cancer is caused by an infection, tanning, drug use, stress, breast injury or bruising. However, none of these are risk factors.
The study also revealed that nearly 75 percent of girls have someone close to them who has had breast cancer and that few girls know how to reduce their risk of breast cancer.
"The importance of knowing your 'girls' both inside and out has never been more important, and no woman is ever too young to start practicing good breast health. During the 10 years of breast 'construction,' a girl's food, water, beverages and air she breathes are the building blocks of new breast tissue and lay the foundation of future breast health," Weiss stated in a press release.
Tara Baney, RN, MS, AOCN, clinical nurse specialist with Mount Nittany Medical Center's Cancer Program said, "Although the American Cancer Society no longer recommends self breast exam as a screening tool for detection of breast cancer, it is important for adolescent girls and young women to become familiar with their bodies so that changes can be detected and reported early to health care providers.
"Some studies have shown that when a mass is detected upon SBE, it is often smaller than if found on clinical breast exam. Also, women who perform SBE are more likely to seek out medical care for the mass sooner than those who do not perform SBE," Baney said.
Dr. Weiss and her daughter are gearing up for mother-daughter school assemblies to create an earlier dialogue with girls about breast health. The book is available for purchase at www.TakingCareofYourGirls.com. A copy also is available at the Cancer Center at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State?College.
Linda Kay Goodwin, RN, BSN, MBA, is a nationally award-winning columnist and recipient of the American Academy of Nursing Media Award for Excellence in the presentation of Health Care Information to the Public. She is employed by Mount Nittany Medical Center and West Virginia University Medical Center.