Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Do you know how to check?
October 1st – October 31st is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Every year, October is dedicated to raising awareness of Breast Cancer internationally, and raising money for supporting charities to help all those affected by this disease.
A whopping 1 in 8 women in the UK will personally experience breast cancer, but only a third of us actively check our breasts for lumps, bumps, and other symptoms. Because of this, we want to make sure each and every one of us knows exactly how to check, and what we’re checking for…
It’s actually pretty quick and easy to check your own breasts at home, so there are absolutely no excuses! You can do this before, during or after your shower, whilst getting changed morning and night or even just laying in bed – waiting to fall asleep or struggling to get up.
Stand up in front of a mirror or lay down, flat on your back
Raise your left arm, bend it at the elbow, and then rest your wrist on the top of your head
Either look at your reflection in the mirror, or look down at your body if laying, and recognise any swelling or changes in how your boobs look (pay attention to any asymmetry that wasn’t there before, skin discoloration or inversions of the nipples)
Next, place your hands on your hips, press in firmly and repeat the same checks. This stretch uses different muscles and may identify changes in different places – so it is important to check using both positions!
Take your three middle fingers (like the Brownie guide promise) and using the tips, move in a circular motion clockwise all the way around the outside of the breast, checking for lumps inside the breast tissue. Start from a 12 o’ clock position and work your way to 9 o’ clock.
Once back to the start, move inwards slightly towards to nipple and repeat. The closer you get towards the nipple, the more of your glands you will then be able to feel and examine
After this, make your way up to the armpit area using the same three fingers in circulation motions, this will check the tissue around the lymph nodes.
To make this check even more effective, clench your fists together tightly in front of you until you can recognise the `V` shape of your large breast muscle (this may work best in front of the mirror). You need to ensure you are feeling all around the lymph nodes and directly behind it. Your lymph nodes will already feel a bit bumpy, almost like a string of pearls. It’s important to know what is normal within your own body!
Feel around and on top of the nipple for lumps, and give them a gentle squeeze to check for any discharge
Once satisfied with your check, switch arms and repeat the process! The more regularly you do this, the more familiar it will become.
These steps are suitable for everybody! Small boobs, big boobs. Girls, boys, everyone! Whether you have natural boobs or implants, these steps are universal! As long as you know what your own body feels like, and you can recognise anything unfamiliar and contact your Doctor, GP or Gynaecologist.
What else you should know...
We have also put together some Top Tips when checking, and a few facts too:
- If you have had breast surgery (including implants, an uplift or a reduction) it is important to wait 6-weeks before checking, to allow any scar tissue to heal
- If you have recently had, or thinking of having surgery, please speak to your surgeon or consultant about what changes you may be able to see or feel moving forwards
- It is not true that breast cancer only affects women! Although the affected percentage is much less for men, it is still possible and therefore everybody should be checking their chest and breast areas!
- Checking whilst you are lying flat is usually an easier technique, as the breast tissue then spreads out evenly, making this a better position to check for lumps and bumps
- Always ensure you press your fingertips in firmly and to concentrate on what you’re feeling. Don’t forget to always go as high-up as your collar bone, and out towards your armpit, the breast tissue is much larger than the actual boob itself!
- You could also try using a massage oil or baby oil to check, as this makes your skin slippery and easier for your fingers to glide around, which in turn well make it more identifiable should you hit any bumps along the way! This technique also works in the shower when your skin is wet
We encourage absolutely everybody to check, and check often! Check yourself, check your partner, ask your partner to check you….just check! If you spot anything abnormal, contact your healthcare professional as soon as you can, no worry is too small!
We hope you found this post useful, and we urge you to share with your friends and family to broaden the awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond!
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