October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it's a timely reminder to take a few minutes each month to check your breasts for any changes.
Our patients often share their worries and concerns around the cosmetic appearance of their breasts, whether it be their size, shape, or how they look overall. However, when it comes to your breasts, your health should be priority number one, and so we’re sharing some handy advice on how you can check yourself over for anything out of the ordinary.
Why should I check my breasts?
In the UK, breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. Sadly, around 1 in 8 women are diagnosed in their lifetime. Early detection helps increase the chances of recovery, so it’s vital that you regularly check your breasts, and share any concerns you have with a doctor.
How do I check my breasts for any changes?
Think TLC: touch, look and check. You may find it helps to examine your breasts when you’re lying down or showering. When you’re lying down, it’s often easier to feel for any changes as the tissue spreads out. You should try to use the pads of your fingers, as opposed to the tips, as this area’s more sensitive. If you struggle to use the pads of your fingers, you can use the palm of your hand. When checking your breasts, keep your fingers flat and together, using them to gently move over your breast area, applying different levels of pressure. Be sure to check your nipples, lightly squeezing in case there’s any discharge or fluids.
What changes should I look for?
If you notice any of the below changes in your breasts, we’d recommend speaking with your doctor:
- Changes in the size or shape
- Colour changes
- Skin changes, like new dimples
- Fluid discharge from either nipple
- New lumps or bumps in your breast or armpit area
- Crusting or scale-like skin around your nipple area
- Pain or discomfort in your breast, particularly if it’s persistent
And remember, changes in your breasts can happen for a number of reasons, like hormone changes, aging, or as a result of your menstrual cycle. If you happen to notice that things have changed, such as new lumps or bumps, there could be a perfectly natural reason for it. Try to avoid panicking, before reaching out to your doctor.