How to check yourself for signs and symptoms, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the rest of the year.

How many of us actually know how to check ourselves for breast cancer? And how many of us really do it?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and here at The Fragrance Shop, we know just how important it is that we know exactly what signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look for in our bodies on a regular basis. We also know the importance of sharing this information with you, our readers, in the hope that it could help even just one person.

In order to be fully knowledgeable on the subject, we spoke to Dr. Diana Gall from Doctor-4-U to find out precisely what we should be doing.

Why is it important to self-examine your breasts?

The first thing Dr. Gall stated was the importance of this life-saving practice. “Learning how to self-examine your breasts is one of the most important things you could do, especially as it means that you become aware of your own body and any changes or abnormalities as soon as they arise.”

Pointing out that our bodies change on a regular basis, she said, “It’s also important to learn what’s normal for your body throughout the month – as breasts can change with hormonal fluctuations.”

What are the main symptoms of breast cancer to look out for?

She went on to explain the symptoms. “The main symptoms to look out for when examining your breasts are any lumps under the skin, changes in the shape or size of one of both of your breasts, any dimpling of the skin or thickening of the breast tissue, changes to the nipple such as seeing if one or both are starting to turn inwards, looking for an eczema-like rash that affects the areola – the area around your nipple – seeing if there’s any discharge, and seeing if there’s any swelling under your armpits. You should also ask yourself whether your breasts are painful or feel uncomfortable.”

Dr. Gall determined that there are two ways to check for any abnormalities: physically and visually, and you should do this around the same time every month due to the hormonal abnormalities that might occur.

“There are two factors to take into account when examining your breasts: touch and sight. When searching for changes, you should be aware of any changes in appearance as well as any new lumps that might appear under the skin.”

How do you check for symptoms?

Not all symptoms will be visible on the surface, so examining ourselves thoroughly is important. “The best way to check your breasts for lumps is to use the pads of your fingers whilst in the shower. You should check each breast thoroughly, moving your fingers in a circular pattern with moderate pressure to feel for any new lumps. Make sure to check all the way from your nipple right up to under the arm pit to ensure that you examine all of your breast tissue.”

While knowing how to feel for anything strange, understanding what to look for is also important. “For visual self-examination, you should stand in front of a mirror and look for any changes such as dimpling, redness, or changes around the nipple. You should check first with both arms by your side, and then again with your arms raised above your head to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance at spotting any changes.”

Dr. Gall told us that if we do notices anything strange or different about our appearance, or if we feel something that concerns us it it’s important that we tell our GP as soon as possible. This gives them the opportunity to examine further and possibly do tests to ensure that everything is find. While this procedure is crucial to do, most lumps that are found in the breasts are harmless and actually turn out to be nothing but cysts.

If you do notice any changes in appearance, or if you feel something that concerns you, you should always tell your GP as soon as possible. They’ll possibly want to send you for tests to see if everything is normal. Most lumps that are found in the breasts are harmless, and usually turn out to be cysts, but don’t let this put you off telling your GP so they can examine you properly.

These diagrams below from Breast Cancer Now visually indicate the signs to look out for.

Ladies (and gents), please make sure you’re checking your bodies regularly for anything normal and pass on this information to everyone you know!

Introducing Look Good Feel Better

For 25 years, Look Good Feel Better has been supporting and helping to boost the physical & emotional wellbeing of patients undergoing treatment for all types of cancer. Launched back in 1994, the cancer support charity now operates in 27 countries worldwide and has helped nearly 2 million people.

How can you help? Support Look Good Feel Better and their cancer charity by purchasing one of the fantastic products below. This will help provide workshops, information and online support to thousands of people across the UK, enabling them to face cancer with confidence.

Want to do more? You can now sign up to Coppa Feel’s SMS reminder messages here. They’ll send you regular messages with little nudges to check your bodies out, and they make it super comfortable to do so. Sign up today and never miss a sign or symptom.

Feature image: GLAMOUR UK