Checking your Breasts during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Beyond (Guys too!*)
The arrival of October brings with it the start of Autumn, darker nights, Halloween and also… Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ignorantly, this was not really something that I used to pay much attention to as I didn’t think that it affected me that much. I was wrong.
In my first year of University however, everything changed when my Mum came down to visit me and relayed the awful news: over Christmas she had found a lump and discovered it was cancerous.
We are very lucky to have the NHS in this country and they couldn’t have been more helpful to our family. She had found it on the Friday and by the following Monday, she had an appointment with her GP. It was hard to be so far away from her as she endured daily radiotherapy for a month but at the end it was all worth it and she was completely fine. It was a distressing time for all of us involved but the support she received from everybody helped us get through it.
Obviously it is important to check yourself and an early diagnosis can be lifesaving but apparently a third of us are not doing so. I was guilty of this but since my experiences I have had time to reflect on this.
You are the expert in knowing your own body and so by being aware, so by engaging in monthly checks, you are better able to report changes to your GP. Your breasts will change monthly due to hormonal changes so it is important to familiarise yourself with what is normal for you and your body.
Changes to look out for
- Size, outline or shape of your breast
- Appearance or texture (puckering or dimpling)
- a new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
- Discharge or bleeding
- Nipple positioning
- Discomfort or pain particularly if it is persistent
Visit your GP!
For 9 times out of 10, changes are benign but if you feel concerned, it is always best to get a check with your doctor of peace of mind.
However, if you find changes in your breast that aren’t normal for you, it’s best to see your GP as soon as possible to rule out breast cancer. If detected, then appropriate treatment can be planned.
*Men can get breast cancer too! It is rarer but statistics show that 1 in 1,000 men can get the disease!
Cancer Research: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer
Pink Ribbon Foundation: https://www.pinkribbonfoundation.org.uk/
Written by Ella Palin