There are few things in life that feel as good as taking your bra off at the end of a long day – but did you know 13th October is officially “No Bra Day”? Not only is it a great excuse to give your breasts a day off from their silk and lace confinements (I shall certainly be taking advantage as its the day after I finish my Europe tour!), but it also brings about the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of breast cancer and how to check for signs and symptoms.
Affecting all genders, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. It is, however, far more prevalent in women, affecting 1 in every 7 of us, which is pretty scary odds. With that in mind, I thought I’d include some helpful tips on how to check your breasts for symptoms of breast cancer as part of your daily routine…
First and foremost, ALL BREASTS ARE DIFFERENT. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes – its common for one to be bigger than the other too – so invest time in getting to know your fabulously unique body. How your breasts look and feel can change depending on your body’s hormone levels, especially if you have periods, so be sure to check them regularly throughout your cycle. It’s important that you know what’s ‘normal’ for you, so you are able to spot any changes to your breasts early on.
Find a time, place and location that works within your routine. Just before putting your bra on, just after taking it off at the end of the day, lying down in bed, in the shower… you could even get your partner to lend you a hand.
Starting with a visual check. Grab a mirror and lift an arm in the air above your head. Look for any swelling, obvious lumps, dimpling or changes to the texture of the skin, not just on your breast, underneath and up to your collarbone, but around the side and into the armpit too. Breast tissue covers a much larger area of your body that simply what sits in the cup of your bra. Repeat on the other side.
While a lot of changes to your breast can be noticed just by looking at them, it’s a good idea to have a feel of them too. This can be done using the tips of your fingers, roll them in small circles over the entire breast area checking for abnormalities. You could also use an up and down motion if preferred – whatever you are most comfortable with.
While most breast cancer does present as a lump, there are lots of other symptoms that are important to look out for. Pain in the breast, discharge or bleeding from your nipple, or any dimpling to the skin or rashes. Any changes to your nipple can also be an indicator that something needs looking at too, such as an inversion, or red sores.
If you do find an abnormality the most important thing is to call your doctor as soon as possible so they can investigate further – if you’re worried you can take a chaperone in with you to your appointment. And and hard as it might be, try your best not to panic. Cancer is not ALWAYS the cause – but its definitely a good idea to get it checked by a medical professional just in case.
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