It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while we wear our pink ribbons with pride, it’s important to spread the word about the everyday things you can do to safeguard breast health and catch this horrible disease early.
Cancer is the UK’s biggest killer, and with recent events preventing women from attending mammograms and breast cancer screening appointments, there’s thought to be more than 8,600 women living with undetected breast cancer in the UK right now. There are also a staggering 50,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed every year.
It has never been so important to check your breasts at home as a result. Making checks a part of your routine is the key to putting your breast health and wider wellbeing first. Here’s how to do just that…
Know what’s normal for you
Every breast is different in terms of its size, shape, and consistency. Their feel and appearance are likely to change at different times of the month, especially during your period. Women with PCOS also report increased breast tenderness and soreness as common symptoms.
The long term consistency, shape, and size of your breasts are likely to change at various life stages too. Breasts after the menopause are likely to feel softer, less firm, and more prone to lumps. With this in mind, it’s important to get to know what’s normal for you.
Take time to become breast aware. Note the look and feel of your breasts, and clue yourself up on what changes aren’t normal and could be cause for concern.
Cop a feel with a physical exam
Performing a self-examination of your breasts is an effective way of detecting any changes. It’s recommended that you check your breasts at least once a month.
You can check your breasts when standing or lying down, just be sure to raise your arm, placing your hand on the back of your head, for each breast you check.
Whatever your desired position, use the flat part of your three middle fingers to check your breast area – not forgetting your armpits as these contain breast tissue too. Use a pressing motion to check for lumps, thickening, hardened knots, and other breast changes.
Lumps are common in the breasts, which is why knowing what is normal for you is so important. New lumps, bumps, or thickening in one breast or armpit should be checked by your GP.
Look for visible changes
A visual exam, preferably in front of a mirror, is another simple way to ensure good breast health. You should observe your breasts with your arms by your side and when raised.
Changes in the breasts can easily be diagnosed by altered skin texture – healthy skin should be relatively smooth – we’ll let So Feminine explain more:
“This is more commonly known as ‘peau d’orange’ or ‘orange-peel appearance’ (puckered with little pits). This often comes with other symptoms such as redness and swelling and may indicate a sign of inflammatory breast cancer BUT could occur as a result of an infection or inflammation. The problem is, some women will avoid the doctors and try to talk themselves out of doubt. Never do this – always get it checked out!”
If the size, outline, or shape of your breast has altered, or you’re experiencing new pain or discomfort in one breast, you should seek medical advice.
Pay attention to the nipple
Nipple changes should be treated with caution. If your nipple has changed in appearance, becomes inverted, or suddenly protrudes in another direction, you should see your GP.
Bleeding, discharge that’s not milky, rashes, and redness that doesn’t go away also warrants further investigation.
If in doubt, seek help
Any breast change, no matter how small, should be investigated. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your GP to check out anything that concerns you. Getting checked early can be important to your health and get you help you need.
Checked your breasts? We’ve got a treat for you!
To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have an exclusive offer for our Butterfly Club members. Just let us know that you’ve completed a breast exam when you place your order with us – you can add this to the message section – and we’ll send you a gift! Start shopping here.
Image: BigmanKn / Shutterstock.com