Friday, January 18, 2008

Breast Checks!

Women's breasts change in size and how they feel due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and weight gain or loss. All women should be aware of how their breasts feel. Generally, changes in a breast are normal, but occasional changes can be found which can be the early signs of breast cancer.

Most lumps or changes are not caused by cancer. Any changes that you find in your breasts should always be checked by a doctor. Early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and survival.

You can go to see a doctor to have a routine breast check done, but it may also be worthwhile to do regular checks of your breasts yourself. Other ways that breast cancer can be found include regular mammograms (x-ray examinations, which are usually only done when a woman is over 40 years old) and ultrasound examinations.

REMEMBER: According to doctors, women with oversized breast and women with undersized breast size are most prone to cyst, which can be cancerous.

How to do a check:

  • Feel each breast from the collarbone at the top to the bra-line at the bottom, and from midway between your breasts to an imaginary line down from the middle of your armpit.
  • When you are feeling your breasts, use the flat part of your fingers including the sensitive finger pads. Move your fingers in small circles at every spot you touch.
  • Start from your armpit and work up and down in vertical strips across your whole breast. The time this will take will depend on your breast size.
  • You should use two different levels of pressure, both light and firm.
  • To feel lightly, put your fingers together and flat and make the first circle with light pressure, firm enough just to make a slight dent in the skin. This will enable you to feel anything just below the surface.
  • At the same spot make a second circle pressing quite firmly so that you can feel any deep lumps in your breast. Press as firmly as you can without any discomfort.

Feel or look for :
The following changes may not be due to breast cancer, but it is important that you see your doctor straight away if you find any of these changes.

  • a breast lump
  • a skin rash or itching
  • changes in the color of the skin
  • puckering, roughness or dimpling of the skin
  • retraction (pulling in) of the nipple
  • discharge or leaking from the nipple
  • pain anywhere in the breast
  • any change from the usual look of either breast
  • swelling or discomfort in the armpit.

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