Breast Cancer doesn’t discriminate
Breast Cancer can affect any one of us, irrelevant of age, status, race or gender. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, however, it is a health risk for guys too. Many people do not realise that men have breast tissue and that they too can develop breast cancer. Just like women, it’s important for men to also check regularly for a mass in their chests. As with all cancers, early detection is key.
Breast self examination
Here are a few tips of what you should be thinking about when examining your breasts:
- It is best to examine your breasts once a month. For women who are menstruating a good time is 2-3 days after your period. For those of you who are not, stick to a certain date in each month to try and jog your memory.
- You need to look at yourself in the mirror. Make sure that you have good background light as you are looking for subtle changes. Most of us have some degree of asymmetry, each time you buy a pair of shoes one foot is more comfortable than the other, it is no different for breasts. Make a note of which side is larger and if your nipples are at the same height. Take a look at the skin over the breast and the nipple to make sure that there have not been any changes. Check for nipple discharge. Lift your arms above your head and check for any skin puckering or in-drawing of the nipple. Place your hands on your hips and press into the hip as if trying to squeeze them together. Any lumps close to the chest wall will become more obvious.
- Examine each breast in turn. Place your finger tips on the breast and move around systematically making sure that you cover the whole breast and the strip of tissue going up to the arm pit. The top of the breast is just under the middle of the collar bone so make sure that you go high enough. It is important to feel behind the nipple and the pigmented skin surrounding it. To complete your examination, make sure that you feel for any lumps in the armpits and above the collar bone.
- Many women tell me that they don’t like to self-examine as they have “lumpy” breasts and they don’t know what is a true breast lump. The breast tissue is hormonally sensitive and it will change both within a month and month-on-month. To spot an early change in the breast it is good to know a “road map” of your own breasts. If you have any concerns it is best to seek medical advice and get an expert opinion.