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Breast cancer: all women are aware of it, but would they know how to detect it?
With one in eight women being diagnosed in the UK, we know we should be looking out for it.
We’re all told that we should be checking our breasts regularly – especially during breast awareness month.
But sometimes it can be hard to know what to check for – from where you should be looking and how you should be checking to what feels normal and what doesn’t.
Here is a step-by-step guide using advice from breast cancer experts to make sure your breasts are in tip top health.
Step 1: Know what’s normal for you
As the NHS’ guidance says, ‘be breast aware’.
This involves regularly feeling and looking at your boobs so you know what feels irregular or not. Everyone’s boobs are different and will have a different definition of normal.
For example, for some women having tender or lumpy breasts around their period is normal.
Cursory: Katy Perry showing how not to check your boobs
Step 2: Find a suitable mirror to get a good look
It’s not just about feeling your boobs – a healthy appearance is important too.
The easiest way of doing this is finding a suitably sized mirror and stand with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
The signs you should be looking for according to breastcancer.org are:
- Your breasts are a usual size, shape and colour
- They are evenly shaped with no distortion or swelling
Cause for concern:
- Dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin
- Changed position of nipple or inverted nipple
- Redness, soreness, rash or swelling
- Signs of fluid coming out of one or both your nipples (watery, milky, yellow or blood)
Don’t forget to look under your arms too for similar changes.
There’s no need to change your regular routine – you can feel your breasts in the bath, standing up while putting on moisturiser or in bed. Whatever’s best for you – thoughrecommends checking your breasts standing, sitting and lying down to allow for a full exam.
They recommend using a ‘firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers pads of your hands, keeping fingers flat and together’ in a ‘circular motion’ over your breasts and up under your armpits.
You should check the entire breast from your collarbone to your abdomen.
Step 4: Know what to look for
These are the signs that the NHS warns you to look out for:
- A new lump, thickening of the skin or a bumpy area that is different to the equivalent area on the other side
- A moist, red area that doesn’t heal easily
- Discomfort or pain in one breast, especially if it’s new and doesn’t go away
Step 5: Don’t panic
Finding an abnormality or lump that shouldn’t be there can be pretty terrifying. But there’s no need to panic just yet.
Lumps are very common in women, and nine out of ten of them don’t end up being cancerous.
Step 6: Go see a GP
But that’s no reason for complacency. If you’re concerned in any way, it’s always best to get it checked out. Even if just for your peace of mind.