How to Check for Breast Cancer

how to check for breast cancer

If you’re between the age of 18-35, chances are that breast cancer may not be on your radar. It’s one of those things that we compartmentalise and lock away somewhere deep within our consciousness. We know it happens but we don’t want to think about it. 

Discussions around breast cancer are often few and far between, especially within the younger population. In fairness, who really wants to talk about it anyway? Especially when the very thought of cancer, for obvious reasons, usually fills us with dread and fear. Whilst it's entirely natural to steer away from such difficult subject matter, a simple monthly boob check has been proven to save lives through earlier diagnosis. 

How to Check for Breast Cancer Lumps

All breasts look different, vary in size and feel distinctive, especially depending at what stage in the menstrual cycle you are. Often around period time, breasts might feel tender and lumpy. It’s important to check your breasts at different times throughout the month so you know what’s normal and what isn’t.

Look in a mirror for the first part of the check-up. Observe your breasts with your arms down by your side and then with your arms raised above your head. If you notice any of the following, see your GP:

  • Changes in the size, outline or shape of the breast
  • Puckering or dimpling of the skin
  • A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side.
  • Nipple discharge, especially if it’s not milky
  • Bleeding
  • A moist, red area on your nipple which doesn’t seem to heal
  • Any change in nipple position or direction its pointing 
  • A rash on or around the nipple
  • Any discomfort or pain in one breast, especially if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away (this is rarely linked to breast cancer but nevertheless important to have it checked out as it can be a symptom in a very small number of cases)

Moving onto the physical inspection, the NHS website advises to self-check whilst lying down in the bath or having a shower, running a soapy hand over each breast up to the armpit and collarbone. Check each breast quarter with the opposite hand, using a circular motion. Maintain a firm touch with the three middle fingers, keeping them flat and together. Check from top to bottom, side to side, from collarbone down to abdomen and from armpit to cleavage.

To ensure that you don’t miss anything, try and establish a pattern when you self-check. It could be checking from the nipple outwards, creating bigger circles as you do it. Alternatively, you could check vertically, moving along in rows. There’s no right or wrong, Do what feels natural to you. If you carried out a check lying down, then stand up and repeat the check, then sit and repeat the check. Vice versa if you were standing up or sitting down to begin with. 

Don’t panic if you find a lump. Women have lumps for all sorts of reasons including hormones, injuries and benign breast conditions, most are not cancerous. It goes without saying that you must always see your GP if you have any concerns or notice any changes, no matter how insignificant it may seem, or how much of a numpty you might feel. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

How to Check for Breast Cancer in Men

Breast cancer doesn’t just affect women. It can affect men when it grows in the small amount of breast tissue men have behind their nipples. The problem with male breast cancer is that it tends to be at a more advanced stage because men don’t look for it.

Men should regularly check their breast tissue. It’s really quite similar to the female boob-check. Starting with a visual inspection, look for any asymmetry of the breast (pecs) and whether or not there has been any change. Also check the nipple area for any sign of a rash or discharge. Pinch the nipple lightly between your thumb and forefinger to be sure there’s no discharge.

Raise an arm and place it behind your head. Now use the three middle fingers of the opposite hand to press lightly and feel your way around the areola. Look for any lumps that you haven’t felt before. Widen the check to outside the nipple and check each quarter of the breast, for example begin by feeling around the inner upper area, then move down to the inner bottom quarter and then across and upwards again, taking time to really feel for anything unusual around those areas of breast tissue. Breast cancer can be found within the armpit, so check that area too. 

male breast cancer

Our Collaboration With CoppaFeel! 

For more information on boob and pec checking, head over to CoppaFeel! Get two free boob or pec check reminder stickers with Scentered’s Mini Love Aromatherapy Balm. Alternatively purchase 6 Mini Love Aromatherapy Balms for the price of 4 (includes two free boob or pec check stickers) and share the love with your nearest and dearest 

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