The first line of defence – checking your breasts
Just a few minutes to cop a feel and pick-up on any changes can save lives. All women (men you too!) over the age of 20 should be performing a thorough examination of their breasts once a month. Ultimately, it’s you who knows your body best, so you are going to be the best person to spot any unusual changes. There is no right or wrong way to get up close and personal, but the following five-point code from the Department of Health will help to guide you:
- Know what is normal for you.
- Know what to look and feel for.
- Look and feel.
- Tell your GP about any changes straight away.
- Go for a breast screening when invited.
What should I be looking out for?
When examining your breasts, look out for the following (and remember to check all parts of the breast, including the armpits and all the way up to your collarbone):
- Inverted nipple.
- Pain in the armpit or breast.
- Thickening of the breast tissue.
- A lump within the breast tissue.
- A change to the texture of the skin such as dimpling or puckering.
- Any redness or a rash around the nipple.
- Discharge from the nipple/s.
- Any swelling in the armpit or around the collarbone.
If you do identify any changes when carrying out a self-examination, be sure to pay a visit to your GP to report them immediately. While not all lumps or changes to your breasts will be cancer, your GP will be well equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to carry out additional checks and diagnose the problem.
For further information about breast awareness, visit Breast Cancer Care.