Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Boobs, knockers, baps, melons, “the girls”… we have some very interesting names for our breasts.
They come in all different shapes and sizes and are all totally unique to that individual, but how well do you know yours? When was the last time you stood in front of the mirror and paid them the attention they deserve? When was the last time you self-examined your breasts? And gents, this includes you too! Both men and women alike need to be checking for any changes to the breast area.
This month is breast cancer awareness month and we wanted to take the opportunity to recognise how important it is that we all get to know our own breasts and more importantly what it is that we should all be reporting back to our doctors.
Most of us will unfortunately know of someone in our lives who has been affected by this condition. From 2016-2018 in the UK, there were an average of 55,920 new cases per year of breast cancer which sadly lead to 11,547 deaths. If we can catch this awful disease early enough though, it has a survival rate of 76% for 10 years or more.
The key element to detecting breast cancer early relies on us being in tune with our own bodies and getting used to self-examination. It will take no more than 5 minutes of your day every month or so to check that nothing has changed. The key element here is that we are looking for changes, and the only way you are ever going to notice a change is if you get to know what is normal for you.
Here is as step-by-step guide to self-examination:
- Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and hands on your hips.
- Look at the size, shape and colour- remember that we are not all perfectly symmetrical and that is normal. We are looking for changes!
- Do they look like their normal size, shape and colour?
- Is there any new swelling or distortion?
- Is there any puckering of the skin?
- Is there any new bulging?
- Has your nipple changed in anyway?
- Is one inverted (pushed in) and it never used to be?
- Is there any redness, soreness or a rash?
- Next, raise your arms and look for the same changes in your armpit area- any swelling, any skin puckering, any bulging, any skin changes?
- The next step is best to do when lying flat, use your right hand to feel your left breast and vice versa. Use a firm smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, use a circular motion covering a patch the size of a 2p piece to gently massage around the whole breast, including under the nipple. You need to cover the area from your collarbone to the base of your ribs and from the very top of your armpit, to make sure all the relevant areas are covered. If you need help with this there is some advice on the breastcancer.org website to help.
- Lastly, do the same examination when you are sat up or standing. You might find it easier to do this in the shower.
Report any of the below changes to your doctor:
- A breast lump
- Nipple discharge
- Inverted nipples (that are new)
- Dimpling or puckering of the breast skin
- Rashes around the nipple
- New changes to size or shape
- A new indentation
- A new bulge
- Skin that looks like orange peel
- Any persistent redness or skin erosion
Your doctor will always take your concerns seriously and we cannot emphasise enough how much a regular check-up, fast reporting of changes and an early diagnosis can make such a huge difference to the outcome. Get started today, get to know your own body better. Look, feel, and report any changes to your GP.
Dr Alia Fahmy
Private Concierge Medical GP
Concierge Medical is the private General Practice for the Cotswolds and surrounding area, our services are exclusive to our members.
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