All women should check their own breasts once a month for signs of change in breast tissue. These changes can be hormonal but they can also be associated with breast disorders or more importantly, breast cancer. From the age of 40, you should also go for Mammograms and doctor examinations every 2 years but you should always make an effort to check your breasts independently. Doing a self-examination is not as hard as it sounds and it can help identify any lumps or bumps early, before they turn into a bigger problem.
Here’s a simple guide to checking your breasts. The breast self-examination only takes a few minutes and it can save your life. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer and many of these women have not done self-examinations – don’t be one of them. Early diagnosis of breast cancer is essential.
“Everybody’s breasts are different but you know what is normal for you. This is one of the reasons why self-examinations are so important.”
To check your breast effectively you should follow 3 easy rules Touch, look and check. Can you feel anything different like lumps or changes in texture? Do they look different? Has the shape of the breast or the nipple changed?
Stand topless in front of the mirror and put your hands on your hips. Ask yourself the following questions as you look at your breasts: has the size, shape or color changed? Is one of your breasts distorted or swollen in any way? You should talk to your doctor if you see any of the following signs:
Dimpling of the skin
Puckering of the skin
Change in nipple position
Carry on standing in front of the mirror and raise your hands above your head. Repeat this check from STEP 1 with your hands still raised above your head.
Look down at each breast one at a time and examine your nipples more closely. Check for signs of leaking fluid. Watery looking fluid, Milky looking fluid, Yellow looking fluid or Blood can be indications of breast cancer or another breast disorder. If you notice any fluids coming out of the nipples then go to your doctor.
Lay down horizontal. Place your right hand behind your head and use your left hand to feel your right breast.
To check your breast fully you need to cover the area between your collar bone & upper abdomen and your armpit & cleavage.
How hard to press: keep your fingers together and press on the skin with your fingers pads. You need to press smoothly but firmly in small circular motions
Pattern: There are different patterns that you can follow so find the one easiest for you.
You can begin the circular motions from the nipple and work your way to the outer breast.
You can go from the nipple out in all directions, from the nipple out in a big circular pattern.
You can go from top to bottom, starting from the armpit, working your way up & down across the breast. Finish at the cleavage area.
You can also repeat this process standing or sitting to be sure that your covered the total area.
A few breast checking and breast cancer tips from IsraelPharm.com
How firm should you press when performing a breast examination?
Using light pressure to feel the skin and tissue just beneath.
Using medium pressure will allow you to feel the tissue in the middle of the breast.
Using firm pressure allows you to feel the tissue at the back of the breast. When doing this you should be able to feel your ribcage behind the breast, that’s how you know you are pressing firm enough.
How often should you check your breasts?
We advice to do a breast self examination once every month. Being more aware of your breasts can help you notice changes when they occur.
If you notice any changes from this examination then go for a checkup with your doctor right away.
Breast cancer medication
For advice on breast cancer medication please email Saul our managing pharmacist and he’ll be happy to talk things through with you. You can also visit this blog post to discover what breast cancer medications may be suitable for you.