Have You Checked Your Breasts This Month?
October is Breast Cancer awareness month, and we want you to check your breasts!
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
Self check breast examinations are for women of all ages and all breast sizes, and should be performed once a month. How often do you check?
The following information is supplied from the The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.
How to check your breasts
1.Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area (this can be easier whilst doing in the shower). Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
2. Stand in front of a mirror and visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side
3.Do this exam whilst lying down, face up. When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Signs and Symptoms to look for:
A change in how the breast/nipple feels
- Nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm area
- A change in the skin texture or an enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast (some describe this as similar to an orange peel’s texture)
- A lump in the breast (It’s important to remember that all lumps should be investigated by a healthcare professional, but not all lumps are cancerous.)
A change in the breast/nipple appearance
- Any unexplained change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling anywhere on the breast
- Unexplained swelling of the breast (especially if on one side only)
- Unexplained shrinkage of the breast (especially if on one side only)
- Recent asymmetry of the breasts (Although it is common for women to have one breast that is slightly larger than the other, if the onset of asymmetry is recent, it should be checked.)
- Nipple that is turned slightly inward or inverted
- Skin of the breast, areola, or nipple that becomes scaly, red, or swollen or may have ridges or pitting resembling the skin of an orange
Nipple discharge (particularly clear or bloody)
- It is also important to note that a milky discharge that is present when a woman is not breastfeeding should be checked by her doctor, although it is not linked with breast cancer.
If I have some symptoms, is it likely to be cancer?
Most often, these symptoms are not due to cancer, but any breast cancer symptom you notice should be investigated as soon as it is discovered. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your healthcare provider so that the problem can be diagnosed and treated.
Awareness about breast cancer can help with early detection. So please, check yourself this month, and the next and the next.