Breast care through touch, look, check.
Although breast cancer can not be totally prevented by engaging in specific preventative activities can help to minimise the risk. These can be changes to your lifestyle, a good diet and if you are of a higher risk of developing breast cancer taking oestrogen related compounds can help. (World Health Organisation 2016).
However the most valuable way of detecting possible breast cancer is to self examine as diagnosis at the early stages have positive outcomes when reducing mortality and morbidity illness. Breast examination is promoted throughout many health organisations and techniques may differ between one organisation to the next but it is important to remember check your breasts in a way you understand and most importantly what is comfy for yourself.
On this page is a guide to try and help with self examination including pictures and a video.
Visible Signs – Look and check
Firstly make sure the room you use has good lighting, then while facing the mirror place your hands on your hips and keep the shoulders straight, look into the mirror for any changes.
These changes could be:
After observing the breast this way then raise both arms above your head and recheck for the same changes.
To check for any leaks from the nipple softly squeeze.
Non Visible – Touch and check
After a visual check you will then want to perform a touch and feel check. There are many ways to do this either sat, laid or stood, most women find that standing in the shower whilst their bodies are wet and their hands are lathered to be an ideal way to check, but you will find the best technique for you. Once comfy, relax raise either your left or right arm above and over your head,
(if you are a bigger lady it maybe more beneficial to support your breast with your hand rather than raising the arm).
Using a firm soft touch with a few fingers make sure they are flat to the skin and together use circular motions moving the fingers around the breast about the size of a 1op piece.
To make sure you have covered the entire breast start at the same place on both of the breasts. Advisably this could be the collarbone and keep the small circular motions going until you reach the abdomen then change to start at the armpit and work towards the middle of the chest. But remember you can do it how you feel most comfortable.
The most difficult bit is knowing how much pressure is required you don’t want to hurt yourself on examination however not enough pressure may not warrant a good check. So to help this is what Breastcancer.org (2015) recommends for ideal pressure dependent on where on the breast you are touching.
- Light pressure for skin and tissue just beneath the surface
- Medium pressure for deeper tissue
- Firm pressure for the back of the breasts (Ribcage)
Finally, Cancer research UK (2014) says you don’t need to check your breast on a daily or weekly basis but it is important learn about your breasts and how they feel at different times of the month. For example when a lady is due her menstrual period the breasts may feel more lumpier and this is normal. If yours do appear to feel lumpier then check them again a few days after your period has ended.
REMEMBER if you have any uncertainty whether that is a lump or you have pain, discomfort or any of the above changes please do not hesitate to contact your GP where they can help.
Check out this video to get a live realistic view of how to check and get to know your breasts.