Breast Cancer Month Logo

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, and is also the second most deadly form of cancer in the US. The World Cancer Research Fund states that over two million breast cancer cases were reported worldwide in 2018.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Throughout the entire month, various global campaigns aim to spread awareness about breast cancer, which affects a considerable number of women each year. These campaigns are trying to make people aware of the need for early detection of breast cancer symptoms, how it can be treated, and the strategies for prevention that can save many lives.

Significance of early discovery

As the studies suggest, early recognition of this disease can significantly increase the patient’s survival chances. It is essential to check for the signs and indications of breast cancer on a regular basis. Its symptoms include lumps, swelling in the surrounding areas, pain, discharge from the nipple, a change in the shape of the breast, and swelling in the underarm. In the event that you come across any of these signs, see a doctor immediately.

Breast Self-Examination

Breast Self Examination Graphic

Breast self-examination detects the occurrence of swollen lymph nodes, and any other irregular changes in the nipple or surrounding breast area. It usually takes around five minutes, and if carried out properly you can diagnose a breast issue. Keep in mind that the vast majority of lumps are entirely benign, so don’t panic. There are two steps to a proper self-examination, i.e., looking and feeling.

  • Stand before a mirror and examine the breasts and look for anything unusual, like cellulite or any irregular discharge from the nipples. 
  • Lie down on your back with a pillow for your head, then place one hand behind your head.
  • Next, using the pads of the three middle fingers of the other hand, examine your left breast. Start from the outer edge of your breast; move your fingers in a circular motion around your breast varying the pressure you use as you go. Make sure you include the area under your arm also. Look for any irregular lumps, or areas that feel denser or more sensitive.
  •  Try to squeeze the nipple and notice if there’s any kind of discharge visible. If so, see the doctor immediately.
  • Switch hands, and perform the same procedure steps on the other breast.

Mammography Apart from the self-examination method, you can go for a mammogram, an x-ray that helps identify any abnormal symptoms in the breasts. Women who have a high risk of this disease should get this test done at least once every year.

Mammogram graphic

Who is in danger?

Women who are

  • Over 50 years old
  • Family history of cancer.
  • Tobacco use

Obesity or high alcohol consumption are also considered factors.

Fight Like a Girl - pink ribbon logo

There is currently no complete cure to this disease, but we can still fight and overcome it by initially taking care of ourselves and educating all the women out there to can take preventive measures to protect themselves.

Other Useful Resources

https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam

https://www.cityofhope.org/5-steps-to-a-better-breast-self-exam/