Checking your breasts regularly is super important. Breast cancer care has come on in leaps & bounds, but early detection is key.
You know your body better than anyone and may already have a breast-checking routine. But in case you don't, here are some tips to help you spot any changes as soon as they occur.
Check your breasts regularly and around the same time of the month.
A good time to check your breasts is a few days after your period ends.
Hormone levels fluctuate, and you'll probably find that your breast tissue changes throughout the month. Breast tissue usually feels lumpier just before menstruation. By checking after your period, your breast won't be as swollen or tender.
Don't have periods? No problem. Check your breasts on the same day every month. Pick a day like the 1st of the month or payday - a date that's easy to remember.
It's still important to check your breasts every month, even if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If breastfeeding, try to examine your boobers after feeding or using a pump to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
How to check your breasts
First, check your breast for visible signs.
Check in the mirror, arms by your sides and shoulders straight. Are your breasts their usual shape, size and colour?
Look for any changes to your breasts like soreness, rash, redness or swelling, skin dimpling/bulging or to the nipple (inverted or a discharge).
Next, check your breasts by feeling them.
Position - Starting with your left breast. Lay on your back with your left hand under your head. Pop a pillow or something soft under your left shoulder.
Motion - Using your right hand, move around the breast in small circular motions using the pads of your fingers.
Area - Start at the nipple working outwards in a circular pattern, or use an up & down pattern (like mowing a lawn), but ensure to cover the whole area. You need to check from the collarbone to the top of your tummy and from the armpit to the cleavage area.
Pressure - Use as much pressure as is comfortable for you. Generally, firmer is better, which, depending on the size and sensitivity of your breasts, will likely mean varying it from lighter around the center of your breast and nipple area to much firmer at your breastbone, rib cage and armpit.
Once you have finished checking your left breast, repeat the process with your right one.
When checking your breasts, look for any changes that don't disappear.
- Lumps, knots or thickening
- Any swellings, warmth, or a change in the tone of the skin
- Changes in the shape and/or size of the breast
- Rash on the breast or nipple,
- Any sore or itchy areas
- Nipple pulling in
- Discharge from your nipple
Don't ignore any unusual changes
Have you noticed changes in your breasts that don't disappear?
The sooner a lump or any changes are checked out (and treated, if necessary) by a Doctor, the better. Many lumps & bumps are found to be non-cancerous, so try not to panic. But - when it comes to your breasts, it's better to be on the safe side.