How Should I Check My Breasts
Take the time to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel through normal regular activities .
You dont need to use a special technique, but ensure you look at and feel your breasts regularly. Make sure this includes all parts of your breast, your armpit and up to your collarbone.
For women of all ages, it is recommended that you be breast aware. Breast awareness is being familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts, so that you can identify any unusual changes .
If You’re Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
- What is the type and extent of the breast cancer?
- Whats my prognosis?
- What are my treatment options and how soon can they start?
- Should I continue taking HRT or the Pill?
- Are there any changes I should make to make to my lifestyle ?
- Will I be able to carry on working?
- Are my female relatives at a higher than average breast cancer risk?
- Can I have tests to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of my body?
- Are there any clinical trials that I might be able to participate in?
- What services does this hospital provide to help me through this?
- Who can I telephone later if Im worried about diagnosis and treatment?
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
I’m very worried about getting breast cancer.
I’m more worried about ovarian cancer than breast cancer.
I’m worried about both breast and ovarian cancer.
I am not done having children.
I don’t want to go into menopause any earlier than I have to.
I have a strong desire to keep my breasts.
The thought of any kind of surgery scares me more than the thought of getting cancer.
I’m not ready to take medicine or have surgery.
You May Like: Stage Three Lymph Node Cancer
How To Check Your Breasts
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with almost 50,000 women diagnosed each year and around 11,500 deaths as a result of breast cancer. But more women than ever are surviving breast cancer as advances in medicine and awareness are increasing. As with all cancers, the faster breast cancer is diagnosed, the less likely it is to spread and the more chance you have of quickly getting back to living the life you love.
Breast cancer can occur at any stage in a womans life cycle, so it is important that whatever age you are, you check your breasts regularly so that you can monitor any changes.
Why Are Breast Exams Important
Breast exams improve the chances of finding breast cancer early. And the earlier breast cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.
Your doctor or nurse can tell whether your breasts look and feel healthy. During a breast exam, your doctor will feel for lumps and other problems, and can recommend more tests if theres anything unusual.
Recommended Reading: What Does Stage 2 Breast Cancer Mean
What About Gene Testing For Breast Cancer
Certain types of breast cancer may be genetic. For example, if you have BRCA1 or BRCA1 genes, this may raise your risk of developing breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
If youre concerned, for example, if breast cancer runs in your family, and youre worried you may also develop it, talk to your GP about genetic testing.
Not everyone is eligible and you would usually have to have good reasons to have this done. For example, if a relative has already been tested and shown to carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2. Testing is often inconclusive. You may also need to consider whether you really want to know, as a positive result may cause ongoing anxiety.
Start with a discussion with your GP about your family history and they will help you decide on next steps.
This article has been approved by womens health specialist Dr Elisabeth Rosen.
Whens Best To Carry Out A Breast Exam
Our community of Cyclers get a reminder in the Natural Cycles app at the optimal time to carry out a self-breast exam. This is shortly after your period has finished as your breasts are less likely to be swollen or sore due to PMS symptoms and were less sensitive to pain during this period.
Thanks for reading our self-breast exam guidelines. If youre interested in learning more about your body, Natural Cycles offers an educational experience teaching you about your cycle whilst helping you to prevent or plan a pregnancy.
Don’t Miss: What Is The Prognosis For Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Benign Breast Conditions Linked To A Slight Increase In Breast Cancer Risk
Some benign breast conditions are associated with a slight increase in the risk of developing breast cancer. All of these conditions involve an overgrowth of breast cells that closely resemble normal, healthy cells. The cells look fairly typical and are not abnormal .
The increase in cancer risk is so slight that it generally doesnt change recommendations about screening practices or follow-up. Your doctor may encourage you to pay closer attention to getting annual mammograms and adopting healthy behaviors that lower risk, such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol. However, your breast cancer risk is still considered to be similar to that of women at average risk.
In addition, your individual situation will be taken into account. You and your doctor can discuss your benign diagnosis in relation to any other well-defined risk factors you may have, such as family history or personal medical history. You can then decide if you need a different follow-up plan.
The following benign conditions are linked to a slight increase in cancer risk. Most would be diagnosed after youve had a biopsy of a suspicious area that showed up on an imaging study. Your doctor often will classify the condition based on the appearance of breast tissue under a microscope.
Place Your Hands On Your Hip
Strip to the waist and stand before a mirror. You will need to see both breasts at the same time. Stand with your hands on your hips and check the overall appearance of your breasts.
Look at the size, shape, and contour.
Note changes, if any, in the color or texture of the skin on your breasts as well as on your nipples and areolas.
Also Check: Stage 1b Breast Cancer Prognosis
What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
1.If someone in your family has breast cancer, does it mean that your chances of getting it are very high?
You’re right. Sometimes women think that their risk is higher than it really is. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor before you consider having any treatment to prevent breast cancer.
2.When you find out that your chances of getting breast cancer are very high, do you need to make a quick decision about what to do?
That’s correct. There’s no reason to hurry. Some women will decide to choose extra checkups and testing now and think about surgery later, after they have had children and have finished breastfeeding.
3.If you have inherited a BRCA gene change, are your chances of getting breast cancer higher than if you just had a strong family history of breast cancer?
Yes, you’re right. A woman who has inherited a BRCA gene change is very likely to get breast cancer.
How To Check For The Signs Of Breast Cancer By Dr Hilary Jones
The signs to look for
- Visible changes in shape or size
- Skin changes such as dimpling, puckering or a rash around the nipple
- Lumps or bumps
- Bloody discharge from the nipple
When to check
- Menstruating women should check their breasts following their period each month
- For menopausal and post-menopausal women, pick a date each month that suits you
How to check
- Sit comfortably in front of a mirror with hands on your hips so your chest muscles are relaxed
- Look at the contour of the breast to check that it matches on each side and see if there is any puckering or dimpling
- Look for any change in the nipple such as a rash or pulling in
- Look for any skin change all around the nipple
- Using the fingers of your left hand to examine the right breast, walk your middle three fingers around the breast. You’re feeling for any abnormal lumps or bumps or any irregularity that hasn’t been there before
- Divide the breast into four quarters
- Start on the inner upper quarter, walking those fingers around the breast
- Do the same on the lower inner quarter and then across to the lower right quarter and then the upper right quarter
- Walk fingers up to the tail of the breast in the armpit
- Walk your fingers back to the areola around the nipple
- Repeat steps above on the left breast, using your right hand to do so
- If you notice anything unusual, see your doctor or nurse as soon as possible
Read Also: What Is Stage 3b Breast Cancer
Is There A Particular Time Of The Month I Should Do Breast Self
Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating should perform a breast self-exam after their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.
How To Do A Self
Regular self-breast exams are something every woman should feel comfortable and confident doing as a part of a healthy routine. Follow our guide to discover the two-step method that will help you carry out a thorough self-breast exam. Of course, home breast checks do not replace a professional diagnosis, so if youre at all concerned, we recommend you consult your doctor or gynecologist as soon as you spot anything out of the ordinary.
Also Check: Hormone Induced Breast Cancer
Signs And Symptoms Of Benign Breast Conditions
There are many different types of benign breast conditions but they all cause unusual changes in breast tissue. Sometimes they affect the glandular tissue . Or they can involve the supportive tissue of the breast, also called stromal tissue.
A benign breast condition can lead to a distinct growth or lump that sometimes can be felt through the skin. Or it can be something unusual picked up on a screening mammogram.
If you have symptoms, theyre often similar to those associated with breast cancer, such as:
- pain, swelling, and/or tenderness in the breast
- a lump that can be felt through the skin or nipple
- skin irritation
- redness or scaling on the nipple and/or skin of the breast
- nipple pain or retraction
- discharge from the breast that is not milk
All of these symptoms require further testing to rule out breast cancer as a possible cause.
Checking For Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Its International Womens Day just over a month away, on 8 March. The day can be an excellent chance to spread information about how to check your breasts regularly for signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Weve got free resources to help.
Checking your breasts regularly breast awareness is vital to all women because if you find a change in your breast that turns out to be cancer, the sooner its diagnosed the more effective the treatment is likely to be.
We know that lots of women dont check their breasts regularly for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, often because they dont know how to do it.
Checking your breasts is not difficult and if you get into the habit you might have cause to be grateful, as Orla Maguire was when she followed breast checking information from TVs The Only Way is Essex team during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2016.
Remember, most breast changes wont turn out to be breast cancer.
Recommended Reading: Breast Cancer Secondary Cancer
Most Breast Lumps Arent Cancer Right
If you find a lump in your breast, you should always have it checked by a GP, says Dr Rosen. But a new symptom doesnt automatically mean you have breast cancer. Around 9 in 10 breast lumps are benign.
It could be that youve simply got a cyst, or a fibroadenoma, which is a non-cancerous, solid growth of fibrous or glandular tissue, says Dr Rosen.
Most cysts go away by themselves and are nothing to worry about. But if a cyst is large or causing discomfort, the fluid can be drawn off. Fibroadenomas may also disappear over time. In some cases, surgery might be needed to remove it.
How To Check For Breast Cancer
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
It’s important that every woman knows how to do a breast self-examination , as it can help in early detection of breast cancer, such as lumps, nipple changes, and more.
Being familiar with what is normal for you will make it easier to recognize any new developments. Furthermore, knowing what’s not normal for anyone can help prompt you to bring such issues to your doctor’s attention, should you notice them during your BSE.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Also Check: Stage Iii Cancer
Benefits And Risks Of Screenings
When and how often to have a breast screening test is a choice you must make. Different expert groups do not fully agree on the best timing for screening.
Before having a mammogram, talk to your provider about the pros and cons. Ask about:
- Your risk for breast cancer.
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from breast cancer.
- Whether there is any harm from breast cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when it’s discovered.
Risks of screenings can include:
- False-positive results. This occurs when a test shows cancer when there is none. This can lead to having more tests that also have risks. It can also cause anxiety. You may be more likely to have a false-positive result if you are younger, have a family history of breast cancer, have had breast biopsies in the past, or take hormones.
- False-negative results. These are tests that come back normal even though there is cancer. Women who have false-negative results do not know they have breast cancer and delay treatment.
- Exposure to radiation is a risk factor for breast cancer. Mammograms expose your breasts to radiation.
- Overtreatment. Mammograms and MRIs may find slow-growing cancers. These are cancers that may not shorten your life. At this time, it is not possible to know which cancers will grow and spread, so when cancer is found it is usually treated. Treatment can cause serious side effects.
Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations
The United States Preventive Services Task Forceexternal icon is an organization made up of doctors and disease experts who look at research on the best way to prevent diseases and make recommendations on how doctors can help patients avoid diseases or find them early.
The USPSTFexternal icon recommends that women who are 50 to 74 years old and are at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women who are 40 to 49 years old should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram. Women should weigh the benefits and risks of screening tests when deciding whether to begin getting mammograms before age 50.
Don’t Miss: Risk Factors For Metastatic Breast Cancer
In The Shower Or Bath
It may be easier to check your breasts while youre in the shower or bath, as your hands are wet. This makes it easier to slide your hand over your breasts.
An easy way to check your breasts is to:
Why Should I Do Breast Self
Monthly breast self-exams can help you detect changes that may be signs of infection or breast cancer . When breast cancer is detected early, the chances for survival are much better.
Self-exams are important for breast health. But they should not replace exams and screening tests recommended by doctors. You should still see your primary care provider and/or gynecologist regularly.
Recommended Reading: Stage 1 Grade 3 Breast Cancer
When Should I Get A Breast Exam
People with breasts should get a breast exam every 1 to 3 years from ages 25 to 39. Once you turn 40, you should get a breast exam every year, and a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. Breast exams are usually included in your regular gynecological check-ups.
Talk to your doctor if youve had breast or ovarian cancer before, or if someone related to you has had breast or ovarian cancer you may need to have more frequent breast cancer screenings.