The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign aimed at raising awareness of this disease and encouraging women to be watchful of the symptoms.
We think that this is an incredibly relevant topic for our readers; as parents and caregivers, it’s so important for us to keep on top of our health and get any concerns seen to promptly. 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer; this means that lots of mummies and families are affected.
Conditions like cancer need to be caught as early as possible to give treatment as much of a chance to work as possible, so we’re really keen to present some important facts & tips to our parenting community. We’ll be taking a look at;
- What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
- How can I examine myself for breast cancer?
- I’ve found something worrying – what next?
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
Macmillan Cancer Support have some excellent resources for breast cancer awareness; they’re a brilliant charity who have made such a difference to the lives of many! They list the symptoms of breast cancer as;
- a lump in the breast
- a change in the size or shape of the breast
- dimpling of the skin or thickening in the breast tissue
- a nipple that’s turned in (inverted)
- a rash (like eczema) on the nipple
- discharge from the nipple
- swelling or a lump in the armpit
- pain or discomfort in the breast that doesn’t go away.
They also state that…
“A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer. Most breast lumps are not cancer. They are usually fluid-filled lumps (cysts) or a fibroadenoma, made up of fibrous and glandular tissue.” (Macmillan)
How can I examine myself for breast cancer?
One of the most important things that we need to do as women (men can also benefit from this as there are some rare cases of male breast cancer) is to self examine. Take any opportunity you have each day to check!
The NHS has resources about breast self examination; the NHS Breast Screening Programme has devised a 5 point plan for breast awareness.
- Know what’s normal for you
- Look at your breasts and feel them
- Know what changes to look for
- Report any changes without delay
- Attend routine screening if you’re 50 or over
The NHS advises that you look at your breasts and feel each breast and armpit, and up to your collarbone. It may be easier for you to do this in the bath or your shower – run a soapy hand over each boob and up under each armpit. You can also check your boobs in the mirror. Look with your arms by your side and also with them raised. It’s advised to do this monthly but not during your period as your boobs tend to be more swollen and tender during this time.
Signs to look out for:
- Any changes in the size, outline or shape of your boobs.
- Any changes in the look or feel of your skin – puckering or dimpling, often described as ‘orange peel’ in texture.
- A new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side of your boob.
- Nipple discharge that’s not milky.
- Any bleeding from your nipple.
- A weeping, red/pink area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily.
- Any change in your nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing in a different direction.
- Any rash on or around your nipples.
- Any discomfort or pain in one breast, especially if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away (it’s important to note that pain is only a symptom of breast cancer in uncommon cases).
This video is very useful and should help you to examine your boobs effectively.
I’ve found something worrying – what next?
Stay calm, and go straight to your GP. 9 out of 10 breast lumps are NOT cancerous! However, the sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can set your mind at ease or start appropriate treatment.
If you’re due a breast cancer screening soon, don’t wait until then to mention the symptoms – see a doctor as soon as you are able to.
We hope that this information has helped you to learn more about the symptoms of breast cancer, and how to self examine. It’s such important information and could potentially be life saving.
Love from Katie & Team BBY. Xx