As the nights draw in and the days are getting cooler not only is this the month that the clocks fall back and we lose an hour, It’s halloween with odd shaped pumpkins and turnips for lanterns. Before you clad yourself in fancy dress get your fingers working and check your breasts. After all it’s October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
What’s the fuss I hear you say? At some time in their life one woman in 7 will be diagnosed with the most common cancer in the UK – Breast Cancer. In the UK alone there are 55,000 new cases per year, that’s 150 per day. At the end of 2020 worldwide there were 7.8 million women alive who were diagnosed with breast cancer over the past five years. A UK man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is around 1 in 870. Taking a few minutes to check out those bare mammary glands can find any hidden problem you may have.
Here in the UK the NHS offer a fabulous screening Programme and there are countless publications widely available as well as dedicated breast charities to encourage people to be self aware, less embarrassed and make sure they know how to perform a self examination and know signs and symptoms to look out for. Please remember changes happen for many different reasons and most lumps are not cancer. However, it is best to get anything that is new, different or worrying you checked out.
Be breast aware. Get to know your body. What’s normal for YOU. We are all different. And each boob feels and looks different to the next. A mirror isn’t essential but can help.
Changes to look for:
Size, outline or shape of breast
The way it looks or feels – dimples, a rash or redness
A new lump
Thickening or lumpy area in one breast or armpit that is new to you
Discharge or fluid from nipples
Change in nipple position – for example suddenly pointing in an odd or different direction
Rash or itchy skin round nipple
Pain in one breast the is new to you and does not go away
There is no special training needed. You just need to do it often and regularly, at least once a month, this will spot any changes. Use the palm of your hand and fingers to feel the whole breast, chest area and armpit. Gently but thoroughly feel the areas for any lumps, bumps or notified changes since you last examined yourself. Any changes? Did you look in the mirror and see something different this time? Maybe it was dimpling skin around the left nipple. Was there a little lump that wasn’t there before? A pain in the right breast? See your GP to discuss your findings, if need be they will refer you to an appropriate clinic, for tests or for a scan.
I have only touched on making you aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and self examination. In a few weeks I will be posting on breast cancer treatments, genetics, etc. In the meantime below are some websites that you can have a look on.