Breast cancer is a disease caused by uncontrolled growth of breast cells. It is the most common invasive cancer in women. One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime according to WHO. The best chance for anyone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer is early detection and who best to lead this effort but each and every woman?
Breast self-examination is easy, and every woman can learn how to effectively do it periodically – ideally once every month – to ensure that they detect any anomaly early enough to ensure they get the best possible chance at beating breast cancer.
To conduct a self-examination on your breasts, follow these simple steps. Who knows, they may save your life.
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling or dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples. With your arms still on your hips press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match-few women’s do, so look for any dimpling, puckering or changes particularly on one side.
Now raise your arms and look for the same changes carefully as explained in the first step.
While you are at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky or yellow fluid or blood)
Finally, feel your breasts while lying down. The breast tissues spread 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 in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple and check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Now that you have followed the above steps, how do you tell if you’re cancer free or not? Well, here are some of the symptoms.
- Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
- Skin irritation or dimpling (sometimes looking like an orange peel)
- Breast or nipple pain
- Nipple retraction (turning inward)
- Redness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin.
Breast cancer is curable once its detected early. So take a test and tell a friend to tell a friend. Save someone’s life today.