Are you Breast Aware?

March 6, 2018

In line with Breast Cancer Awareness month, I would like to share some useful tips and information to enable you to be more breast aware and confident to self examine your breasts.

According to research by Breast Cancer Care nearly 60,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in UK. Breast cancer also affects men, although the occurrence is more rare.

The key is to perform regular breast checks, paying close attention to any changes and reporting it early to a medical practitioner. Early intervention culminates in better treatment outcomes.

So how often should you be checking or performing self examination?

Once a month, a few days after your menstrual cycle. The more familiar you are with your breasts the more obvious any deviation from the norm will be. Although being "busy" is no excuse to not self examine your breasts regularly, I appreciate that as women we tend to lead extremely busy and hectic lifestyles. Which is why I would like to recommend this brilliant app by Breast Cancer Ireland. Their awareness app lets you schedule reminder for performing your breast checks.

How to perform a Breast Self Examination

There are two checks to perform- visual and physical checks.

Start by standing topless in front of a mirror. Visually inspect your breast for the following:

  • changes in size, shape or symmetry
  • Dimpling
  • a nipple that has changed or become inverted
  • redness, rash or swelling
  • nipple discharge

This can be done with your hands placed behind the back of your head.

For the physical examination, while still standing, use your right hand to feel your left breast and visa versa. Use a firm smooth touch with the first two fingers (keep fingers flat and together) and gently feel your breast working from the top of the breast to the underneath. A good place to start is from the top of the under arm. The key thing is to ensure you cover the entire breast from top to bottom, feeling for a lump or thickening of the skin.

It is also important to bear in mind that not all lumps turn out to be cancerous, some are benign (non-cancerous). So try not to panic should you find a lump, however, report it as soon as possible to your doctor.

So some key points to consider:

  • It is normal for one breast to be slightly bigger than the other
  • Breast pain is quite common and is not usually due to cancer. Most women experience tenderness and swelling just before their menstrual cycle. If you are worried do consult your GP.
  • The more frequently you check your breasts the more quicker you'll spot and report any thing out of the norm.

Awareness is very important and sharing this information could potentially save a life and save a family from the heartache of losing their loved ones.

On a final note, be breast aware and trust your instincts and do report your concerns to your Doctor.

Keep your health in check.

Abigail - Registered Independent Nurse

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