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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer remains the second most common cancer among women in the United States. Although common, early detection can be lifesaving when you act quickly. Be sure to make breast self-exams part of your monthly routine and mammograms a part of your annual wellness screenings.

Mammograms are helpful to detect cancer before you feel a lump, while breast self-exams are important to notice any changes in your breast. Although most the common symptom of breast cancer is a lump or mass, most breast lumps are not cancer; however all should be taken seriously, particularly if new.

Other possible symptoms of breast cancer:

  • Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no lump is felt).
  • Skin dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel).
  • Breast or nipple pain.
  • Nipple retraction (turning inward).
  • Nipple or breast skin that is red, dry, flaking or thickened.
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk).
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone. (Sometimes this can be a sign of breast cancer spread even before the original tumor in the breast is large enough to be felt.)

Tips and resources to prevent and detect breast cancer:

  • General prevention tips include maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active (150-300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity each week) and avoiding or limiting alcohol (1 drink or less a day for women; 2 drinks or less per day for men).
  • Don’t let cost be a barrier! Breast cancer screenings (mammograms) are covered by your NC State Health Plan insurance, including 3D mammograms for women “at risk” for breast cancer.*
  • Don’t let distance be a barrier! UNC Medical Center locations are open Monday—Friday for eligible women to get their mammogram. Appointment required. Call 984-974-8762 to schedule your appointment at any of the locations below. Expect your screening to take 20 minutes. Free parking is available unless otherwise noted.**
    • Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
      102 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC
    • Imaging and Spine Center (ISC) 8:40 a.m. – 3:40 p.m.
      1350 Raleigh Road, Chapel Hill, NC
    • Mammography Department at NC Cancer Hospital 8:00 a.m. – 3:40 p.m.
      101 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC
      **Hourly parking available at the UNC Dogwood Park Deck.
    • UNC Hillsborough 8:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
      430 Waterston Drive, Hillsborough, NC
  • Take advantage of your wellness benefit! NC Flex offers a Cancer & Specified Disease Plan which provides a wellness benefit of up to $100 annually for each covered person for mammograms and other preventative screenings. Enroll anytime during Open Enrollment Oct. 10-28.

Useful Resources:

* A member is “at risk” if the member has any of all of the following:

  • Personal history of breast cancer.
  • Personal history of biopsy-proven benign breast disease.
  • A mother, sister, or daughter who has or has had breast cancer.
  • Has not given birth before the age of 30.
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