This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we encourage all South Australian women to be breast aware and check their breasts and body regularly for any unusual changes that could be symptoms of breast cancer.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 Nurse, Karen Hall says if you are familiar with your breasts, you’re more likely to notice any changes.
“Being aware of changes in your breasts and learning how your breasts feel at different times will help you to understand what is normal for you,” Karen said.
“It’s important that women of all ages are checking their breasts regularly—but it especially becomes more important to know your breasts as you get older, as the risk of breast cancer increases with age.”
Karen shares 3 steps to checking your breasts that only take a few minutes!
Step 1: Mirror
“Look in the mirror with hands on hips. Raise your arms above your head, then lower them and look to see if there are any changes in the appearance of your breasts,” Karen says.
Changes to look out for include:
- sudden or unusual change in shape and size
- swelling around the armpit or around the collarbone
- changes in skin texture including puckering, dimpling or redness
- changes in the nipple including discharge, crusting, redness, changes in direction or nipple pulled in.
Step 2: Flat hand
“Use the flat part of your fingers and the finger pads to feel near the surface, and deeper in the breast,” Karen says.
Changes in breasts to feel for include:
- a lump, lumpiness or thickening
- constant, unusual pain in the breast or armpit
- any area that feels different from the rest.
Step 3: Check
“Remember to feel all the breast tissue, from the collarbone to below the bra line and under the armpit,” Karen says.
“There is no right or wrong way to feel your breasts. You may find a way that works better for you. Feel them while you’re in the shower or bath, lying in bed or getting dressed.
“If you are still having periods, expect your breasts to feel different at different times of the month. It may be normal for your breasts to be painful, lumpier or swollen just before your period and softer after your period.
“Check your breasts at the end of your period, or, if you no longer have periods, choose a regular time to check your breasts such as the first or last day of the month.
“If you see or feel any changes in your breasts, it is important that you see your GP as soon as possible.”
For more information about checking your breasts and what to look out for, you can call our experienced Cancer Council 13 11 20 Nurses who are always here to help answer any questions.
If you are aged 50-74 you are also eligible for a free breast screen every two years with BreastScreen SA. To book your breast screen call 13 20 50 or visit www.breastscreen.sa.gov.au