The most common message with regards to cancer would have to be “Early detection can save a life” and we can’t stress this enough. When it comes to breast cancer, the symptoms are hardly ever visible and can be verified by a professional screening. However, it’s very important for any human being, man or woman, to know their body so that they are able to notice any changes happening to their bodies. If you know and pay attention to your body, you are able to respond swiftly to any changes you may notice.
Some of the symptoms of Breast Cancer are:
- A lump or swelling in parts of, or the whole breast
- An unusual change in the size of the breast
- A change in the texture of the skin on the breast; dimpling
- Skin irritation or redness, the breast may look inflamed
- Nipple retraction; the nipple turning inward
If you think you have experienced any of these symptoms, here is how you can do a self-check in the comfort of your own home before consulting a professional.
In the mirror:
- Stand in front of a mirror with your breasts exposed in a well-lit room. Check if your breasts are unequal in size. Do remember that breasts normally aren’t equal in size but you should be able to notice a significant difference in size. Relax your arms by your sides and look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any breast skin changes. Look for any puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration.
- Check your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change in their direction.
- Place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can look at the outer part of your breasts.
- Bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in their shape or contour.
- Clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Turn from side to side to inspect your breasts’ outer portions.
- Check your nipples for discharge fluid. Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
In the shower:
- Lather your hands with enough soap and water and feel for changes in the breast. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Then place your right hand on your hip and reach with your left hand to feel the right breast.
- Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
- With soapy hands, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.
- Lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this easier.
- Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o’clock and move toward 1 o’clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o’clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in 1 inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you’ve felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
- Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
- Repeat these steps on your other breast. Don’t forget to check the upper, outer area of the breast, nearest to the armpit.
Pain in your breast and a difference in breast size are not sure signs of breast cancer because they could be symptoms of other illnesses. However, once you’ve done this self-check and are still unsure, please visit your nearest doctor for a thorough and professional mammography. Remember, early detection can save your life and the life of a loved one.