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Breast cancer is one of the many common forms of cancer that affect women. Statistics show that 1 in 8 women in the US will develop cancer in her lifetime. While you should have a checkup for proper diagnosis, there are steps that you can take to check yourself. Here are the steps and physical signs to look out for when checking for breast cancer.
Step 1: Assess Your Breasts’ Appearance
Start the assessment by standing in front of the mirror naked from the waist up. Straighten your shoulders and put your arms on your hips. Look for signs of changes such as size, shape, and color. Watch out for any form of distortion or swelling. If nothing is out of the ordinary, note it down.
Here are signs to inform your doctor about:
- Bulging or dimpling skin
- Soreness or swelling
- Unusual rashes or redness
- Nipple placement – has it moved? Is it inverted?
Step 2: Raise Your Arms
Raise both arms above your head to see if there is any difference. Watch out for any liquid that may come from your nipples. This could come out watery, milky, or in the form of yellow fluid or blood. Note this down for your doctor if this appears.
Step 3: Lie Down and Start to Feel Your Breasts
Examine your left breast with your right hand and your right breast with your left hand. Use a firm yet light touch when checking for lumps. Go in circular motions the size of a quarter in all areas of the breast. This is to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Move from top to bottom, side to side, even from your collarbone to areas in your armpit and cleavage.
You can start this circular motion from the nipple. Then, move in with larger circles until you cover the entire breast. Make sure that this is done on both sides. You can also move from top to bottom. Make sure to feel the front, back, and surrounding areas of the breast. Use light pressure in sensitive areas of the breast. Use medium and firm pressure when you approach the deep tissue of your breast. You should be able to feel your ribcage in these areas.
Step 4: Repeat in the Shower
Feeling your breasts standing is best done in the shower when your skin is wet and slippery. Repeat the same motions with the one arm raised while the other checks. Cover the same areas and note if there’s any difference when you perform both checks.
The Next Step
If you feel a lump or notice unusual changes in size, shape, look, or feel, do not panic immediately. It is not just cancer that can cause these changes to happen. However, it is advised to have yourself checked by a professional as soon as possible. If you don’t find anything unusual, then there is nothing to be alarmed of. But still set a regular appointment to have yourself checked by professionals. It is advised to set an appointment every one to three years. When you’re in your 40s, it is advised to do it once a year.
Also Read: Breast Cancer Screening