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How to check your breasts and help beat breast cancer

How to check your breasts and help beat breast cancer

Two women standing on in front of the other, they are turning and smiling at each other. the woman at the back has her hands on the breasts of the woman at the front

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there’s no better time to brush up on the basic of breast care. Early detection of breast cancer is critical for the effective treatment of the disease.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and most countries. Even though it mainly affects women, some men can be diagnosed with breast cancer too.

For various reasons, LBTI women have lowers rates of screening, which means diagnosis can be made very late.

Checking for changes to your breasts can be really easy and can even fun if you get your partner involved.

‘Make this Breast Cancer Awareness Month the time you start to get used to touching and looking at your breasts in a way that’s comfortable and convenient for you,’ said Grete Brauten-Smith, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care.

‘There’s no right or wrong way to check – it’s about looking and feeling regularly, so any unusual changes can be spotted quickly. This isn’t just a lump, it can be anything that is different or new – there are many different signs and symptoms to look out for.’

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. This means it’s important for women to check their breasts regularly and report any unusual changes to their GP.

How to check your boobs:

Find your ‘normal’ (your normal is not my normal)

Check your breasts once a month (they change during hormonal cycles, so set a reminder, download an app like this one, or get a friend or lover to text you each month).

You can check your breasts lying in bed, getting dressed or while in the shower. You can even have your partner check for you and incorporate breast checks into a fun routine to do with your partner.

It’s important to know what your normal is so that if any changes happen you can feel them sooner rather than later.

Be sure to check all of your breasts, your armpits and even up to your collarbone.

CoppaFeel! Rochelle Humes and Greg James – Boob Check from CoppaFeel! on Vimeo.

What are some symptoms I should look out for?

  • change in size or shape of your breast
  • lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling  – this can look like the skin of an orange.
  • redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • your nipple has become inverted or looks different in some way – this could be a change in its position or shape.
  • liquid, sometimes called discharge – that comes from the nipple without squeezing.
  • pain in your breast or your armpit – that is there all or almost all the time.
  • swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.

What if I find a lump

If you find something that concerns you during your monthly breast self-check, then head to your GP for further testing. Your GP is then likely to run some tests for you, including a mammogram.

If you notice a symptom, don’t wait.

Women in the UK are invited for a three-yearly mammogram once they turn 50.

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