In a global effort to raise awareness on breast cancer, October has been designated as the Pink Month.
The Pink Month is a month where efforts to educate those concerned about the disease, including early identification, signs and symptoms associated with breast cancer.
It’s a month to reach out to your mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and female friends and let them know you care, you’re there for them- no matter what.
Breast cancer is a complex ‘ dis-ease’ with multi-faceted causes that are individual to each woman experiencing them.
Whilst we cannot claim that there are any singular factors that can ‘cure cancer’; we can raise awareness of the importance of checking your breasts regularly, taking time out to have regular checkups with your GP and also to freely share this information with our loved ones.
The more openly we share this information already from a young age, the more natural it becomes for young and older women alike to feel at ease with their bodies and recognising changes that might be unusual for them specifically.
Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical center states,
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
Breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.
But remember : A breast self-exam isn't a substitute for a breast exam by your doctor (clinical breast exam) or a screening mammogram.
Becoming familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts can supplement breast cancer screening, but can't replace it.
How Should A Breast Self-Exam Be Performed?
1) In the Shower
With the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes.
2) In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles.
Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3) Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
What I can do to prevent breast cancer?
If you're concerned about breast cancer, you might be wondering if there are steps you can take toward breast cancer prevention. Some risk factors, such as family history, can't be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.
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