It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – and we make no apologies for turning over our October health pages once again on what we can all do to detect and defeat this still all-too-common killer
This month will see thousands of fund-raising events take place across the UK – including right here in Brum and the West Midlands – to raise awareness and much-needed funds to fight breast cancer. It’s a time, more than any other, when the world turns pink!
One of the key messages of the month is highlighting the signs and symptoms and to help you understand what breast changes to look out for. Everyone’s breasts are different – they can change with age and at different times of the month. When you know how your breasts normally look and feel, it will be easier to spot if there are any unusual changes for you.
Picking up abnormalities as early as possible is vital, which means it’s important that women self-examine regularly and know what to look for. Throughout a lifetime the levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone vary, causing the breasts to change.
For younger women, the best time to self-examine the breasts is about three to five days after the period starts because breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in the monthly cycle. Women who’ve gone through menopause should examine their breasts on the same day every month.
HOW TO CHECK
To self-examine, place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast. Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area. Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
Then stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side. Look at your breasts directly and in the mirror. Look for changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel. Also note the shape and outline of each breast. Check to see if the nipple turns inward. Do the same with your arms raised above your head.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
1. A lump on or around the breast. This may not be seen but might be felt either in the breast, upper chest or armpit.
2. Persistent lumpy area or unusual thickening of the breast tissue.
3. Any constant pain in part of the breast or armpit.
4. Change in size or shape of either of the breasts.
5. Redness or rash on the skin that looks like eczema.
6. Change in appearance or direction of the nipple on the breast.
7. Nipple discharge from the breast.
If you do spot any unusual changes to your breasts you should get them checked out by your doctor.
Every 10 minutes, someone in the UK hears the words “you have breast cancer”. By taking part in wear it pink, you could help fund a life-saving research breakthrough. You could give someone information they can rely on when they need it most. Or drive forward vital campaigning, to make sure everyone living with breast cancer gets the best possible treatment and care.