When last did you do a self-examination?
Health and Beauty Oct 08, 2020
From 1 to 30 October, South Africa and the rest of the world will be commemorating the annual Breast Cancer Awareness month. We’re joining in shedding light on this devastating disease. Unfortunately, one in every 25 women will contract breast cancer, whether it forms part of family history or not – all women and men (yes, men can be diagnosed with it too) are at risk.
Therefore, everyone should be empowered with knowledge regarding lowering their cancer and health risk and recognising warning signs. Because when detected early, it’s curable and can curb the unnecessary suffering and loss of someone’s life.
Of all cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in South Africa, constituting more than 50 percent of all diagnosed cancers. It’s recommended to do monthly self-examinations (preferably at the same time of day, following a woman’s menstrual cycle) in front of the mirror. It is vital in discovering breast cancer, compared to finding a breast lump by chance.
Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Self-examinations can lead to early detection of irregularities – not just lumps but any of the following as well:
- A lump in the breast or armpit, sizes vary from a marble to a tennis ball;
- Increase in size of one breast;
- Swelling of glands in the armpit;
- Enlargement of one arm;
- Dimpling of the skin;
- Dimpling of or changes to the nipple;
- Discharge from the nipple;
- Lowering of one breast or nipple;
- Orange peel appearance to the skin of the breast and or nipple;
- Retraction of one or both nipples;
- Dry skin (eczema) of the nipple.
Now that it’s clear what to look for, let’s cover the steps of how to perform a breast self-examination or watch this quick video. Before we start, we have to understand that the breast starts from the collarbone down to the abdominal wall, and from your breastbone to midway through your side.
- Stand up straight in front of a mirror and lift your hands, trying to touch the sky and look at your breasts in a stretch position.
- Check that there are no noticeable changes between the two sides – no nipple changes or visible lumps.
- Apply cream, shower gel, soap or oil to your breast for easy gliding over your skin and to feel lumps quicker.
- Now with the flat surface of your fingers and feel your breasts.
- Put one hand behind your head and let the free hand feel the opposite breast.
- Start feeling in the armpit.
- Move in the figure of a six and around the entire breast until you reached the nipple.
- Now move from top to bottom on your breast back to the armpit.
- Check for any nipple discharge. The only time you should experience discharge is when you’re breastfeeding. If the fluid is yellow or green, it means an infection, and if it’s clear or blood-stained, you should visit the doctor immediately.
If you detect anything from the self-examination exercises, it’s best to arrange a Clinical Breast Examination at a local CANSA Care Centre or health practitioner. If they detect abnormalities, they’ll refer you to a medical professional for further testing.
Pink Drive is another organisation offering expert advice, ways to reduce your risk, medical activations and more. You’re also welcome to give to help other unfortunate ladies in different ways.
Let’s develop awareness and keep ourselves safe and healthy.