According to recent figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), 2.3 million people around the world are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
Fortunately, in most cases this is now picked up at an early stage, often through annual mammograms. This makes it easier to treat and significantly increases survival rates. However, there are many women who are not eligible for these annual screenings.
For these women, self-examination can be pivotal in spotting unusual lumps, shaping or discharge – all of which could be symptoms worth getting checked out by a medical professional.
During a recent visit to Endomag HQ, we asked Dr Allison DiPasquale of Texas Breast Specialists and Dr Anne Peled of Sutter Health to share their top tips and tricks to help you know what to look and feel for.
For her first tip, Dr DiPasquale explained the importance of knowing your breasts by sight.
The best way to do this is to stand in front of a mirror before you shower and get to know how the skin and nipples look.
To increase your visibility, raise your arms in the air to make sure there’s no dimpling below the breast fold, and then place your hands on your hips to look at the inside of your armpit.
Next, it’s time to get familiar by feel. Start by getting into a comfortable position, whether that’s in the shower (which also helps for convenience) or by lying down with your arm above your head to allow you to feel around the armpit space too.
There are three methods that Dr DiPasquale recommends for the self-examination:
It is important to retain consistency in your chosen method, as this will allow you to be more thorough and more easily spot any abnormalities.
If possible, Dr Peled advises checking every day as it will also allow you to regularly note any differences, particularly during the menstrual cycle where there will be other changes to your body.
If you are concerned about any changes you may find, don’t be afraid to ask your local medical professional. Fortunately, most breast lumps are benign, so often it will be nothing to worry about.
We’d like to thank Dr DiPasquale and Dr Peled for providing this helpful advice. If you’d like to find out more about breast self-examination, visit BreastCancer.org.