Every day 43 people are diagnosed with breast cancer, making general breast cancer awareness increasingly important. From look to feel, knowing the ins and outs of your breasts can lead to early detection. When breast cancer is detected early, women have a much greater chance of successful treatment. Checking your breasts isn’t difficult to do and it really doesn’t take much time either – so why not start getting into the habit of regularly checking your breasts? It’s all about keeping an eye on the physical appearance of your breasts, feeling for changes and learning what is normal for you. When it comes to early detection, the Cancer Council suggests keeping watch for any of these breast symptoms:
- A lump, lumpiness or thickening of the breast
- Changes in the skin of a breast, such as puckering, dimpling or a rash
- Persistent or unusual breast pain
- A change in the shape or size of a breast
- Discharge from a nipple, a nipple rash or a change in its shape.
According to Pink Hope, you should check your breasts at least once a month. “Two days after your period is a good time,” Pink Hope program manager Sue Jones advises on the Pink Hope website. Follow these steps to get started:
Using a Mirror
1. Stand in front of a mirror with your hands on your hips and take a good, long look at your breasts. Changes to the appearance of your breast can be an early warning sign of breast cancer. Take particular note of any changes to the colour, shape or size of your breasts as well as the appearance of dimpling of the skin or changes to the nipple (inverting, sinking or the appearance of fluid).
2. In the same position, push your shoulders forward. Check again for any physical abnormalities. Moving your hands from your hips to above your head, check your breasts over once more.
In the Shower
While it’s not essential to feel your breasts in the shower, many women find this setting more comfortable when conducting a standing breast check.
1. Raise one arm above your head and using your other hand, press into your breast tissue in a circular motion looking for lumps and bumps. Keep your fingers pressed firmly together as you move your hand over your breast.
2. Make sure you don’t miss any spots - feel from your upper abdominal area on toward your collarbone. From there, begin feeling from your armpit to cleavage.
3. Use light and firm touches and be sure to feel your nipple as well. Once you’ve thoroughly felt your breast, repeat these steps with your other breast.
On the Bed
It’s important that you check your breast when lying down as well as when standing.
1. Lying down on your bed with your back flat, lift one of your arms above your head.
2. Use the same method as in the shower; thoroughly check the feel of your breasts. Repeat on your other breast.
*To keep yourself breast aware and set yourself breast check reminders, take a look at the McGrath Foundation’s free Curve Lurve App!
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