Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Why breast checks matter and how to do them
October is breast cancer awareness month. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting American women, with 1 in 8 receiving the diagnosis of breast cancer during one’s lifetime. It’s a time we associate with pink ribbons and 5k runs, but what is breast cancer awareness month all about?
This month was created to bring awareness and promote regular screening and early detection of breast cancer. Breast checks can be intimidating.
Today we’re going to break down why they matter and how to do them.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, breast exams should be done once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
How should I do a self exam?
Find your comfy place! In the bathroom mirror or in the shower are both great places.
With the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes.
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads 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 covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
That’s it! It’s as simple as that. We hope this tutorial helps you get into a routine of self examinations! Make sure you remind your friends and loved ones to check themselves too.