Dear Heloise: Thank you for the tip from the Houston reader about scheduling an annual PHYSICAL EXAM, at which time the doctor does a breast exam, six months before her annual mammogram. This is something I never thought about, and I hope a lot of women take this hint to heart.
Your understanding is correct that a mammogram detects ''micro'' changes that cannot be seen or felt, and the exam by the doctor is vitally important also.
This is a subject that is dear to my heart, for I am the fortunate beneficiary of a mammogram. I had a mastectomy in 1999. My doctor did a breast exam in March. I had a mammogram in April that caught a cancer in the early stages before it could be felt. My prognosis is extremely good. Thanks again for getting the word out. -- Freda Palecek, Swansea, S.C.
Thank you for sharing your experience with my readers. Mammograms and breast exams only take a few minutes and can save your life!
One note: If you are scheduled for a mammogram, don't wear dusting powder or antiperspirant/deodorant. They can interfere with the reading and might show up as suspicious-looking flakes.
Here's another comment from Betty Gregory, who is an RN volunteer with the Houston American Cancer Society:
''The hint on breast examinations and mammograms left out the most important part -- monthly breast self-exams. Please remind readers that the recommendations from the American Cancer Society are monthly breast exams, professional yearly exams and mammography (depending on age and history).
''Thank you for reminding readers of this very important topic.''
A special Heloise Heart Hug to all who took the time to drop us a line. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: When buying socks or hose, buy at least two pair of the same color. When one gets lost, you still have three others to match up. It saves money in the long run. -- Saundra King Byers, Nevada, Mo.
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