Breast cancer awareness is essential for every woman. Early detection plays a crucial role in treating and surviving breast cancer. To spread awareness, we've compiled a comprehensive guide on why and how women should check their breasts, signs to look out for, and resources to find more information.
Why Should Women Check Their Breasts?
Breast self-examination allows women to familiarise themselves with their breast's normal appearance, feel, and texture. By monitoring any changes, they can identify possible symptoms of breast cancer earlier, leading to improved outcomes.
How to Perform a Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Follow these simple steps to perform a BSE:
1. Visual Inspection
- Stand in front of a mirror with your hands placed on your hips.
- Observe your breasts for size, shape, contour, or dimpling changes.
- Check for nipple discharge or inversion (nipple turning inward).
- Raise both arms over your head and observe your breasts for similar changes.
- Lie with a pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand on your head.
- With the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand, press your right breast firmly using small circular motions.
- Follow a pattern (clockwise, spokes of a wheel, or up and down) to cover your entire breast.
- Repeat the process on your left breast with a pillow under your left shoulder.
3. Examination in the Shower
- With soapy hands and fingers flat, perform the same circular motion during the palpation step. The shower's wet and slippery environment can make detecting lumps or changes in the breast easier.
Perform the BSE at least once a month, ideally a few days after your menstrual cycle, when breasts are less tender or swollen.
Signs to Look Out For
If you notice any of the following changes in your breasts, consult your healthcare professional:
- Lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area
- Changes in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Inverted nipples or discharge
- Redness, swelling, or flaky skin
Resources for Further Information
For more information about breast cancer and self-examinations, consider the following resources:
- National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF): Offers a wealth of information on breast cancer, early detection, and support services - www.nationalbreastcancer.org.
- Breastcancer.org: Provides up-to-date information on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention - www.breastcancer.org.
- American Cancer Society: Offers detailed information on breast cancer screening, detection, and treatment, along with a helpline for support - www.cancer.org.
- Susan G. Komen: A leading organisation supporting breast cancer research, care, and advocacy - www.komen.org.
By staying informed and regularly performing self-examinations, women can take proactive steps to improve their breast health and detect potential issues early.