Self-examination of the breasts for men and women is exactly the same, but it doesn’t just include physical touch, you need to look for any changes too.
A lot of men and women have told me that it’s easier to find lumps and bumps when they’re in the shower. It’s easier for soapy hands to glide over the skin and they felt that they could feel more.
Originally some of us were told to roll a towel up and place it under each of our shoulders in turn, whilst laying on the bed. You can do it standing up or laying down, but you don’t need a rolled up towel anymore.
So, find yourself 10 – 15 minutes of quiet time, understandably difficult in a busy household, but this is YOUR health here and you owe it to yourself to take some time out.
You obviously need to be naked to the waist in order to do a full self-examination; remember you’re in the privacy of your own home, there’s no need to be embarrassed.
1) Use the flat of your three main fingers to gently, but firmly, slowly press around the breast area. You can start anywhere you want to, some people start at the nipple, others imagine a clock and work their way around. Cover the entire breast, including going underneath – ladies with large breasts, you’ll have to lift them up!
2) Once you’ve checked the full breast, move upwards to your armpit. You need to check for lumps and bumps here too, as the breast tissue goes up into this area and you also have lymph glands here which may be affected.
3) Breasts and armpits checked; now for your collar bone. It’s not uncommon for people to find abnormalities in the tissue up to their collar bone and along the bone itself.
OK, so that’s the physical check done, but now you have to do a visual check. You’ll need a mirror that you can see your full torso in. I know this is something that a lot of people don’t like doing, but looking at yourself in the mirror is really important to fully check your body for abnormalities.
Please note: It’s perfectly normal for one breast to be bigger than the other, and if this is normal for you then don’t panic. What you’re looking for is changes.
You need to be stood in front of the mirror. Place your hands above your head and have a look at your breasts/chest and ask yourself:
* Are they as they should be?
* Are they symmetrical?
* Has one become bigger than the other?
* Is there any swelling?
Once you’ve done that, put your hands on your hips and visually check again. The reason why you do this twice is to look at your body under different muscle tensions; it gives you a better picture of what’s going on.
Moving on to your skin:
* Are there any dark patches of skin that have just appeared?
* Do you have a rash that wasn’t there before?
* Is there any itchiness that’s been constant and annoying you for a week or so?
* Is there a patch of skin that’s puckering in? (Like something pulling from the inside)
* Can you find anything that looks like dimpling orange peel?
These may only be small patches of skin that are effected, but if you can answer yes to any of them, go and see your GP as soon as possible.
Just to note: If you’ve changed your washing powder, shower gel, body lotion or anything similar, you may just be having an allergic reaction to that, but keep an eye on it.
Let’s talk nipples!!
There’s a lot to look out for with nipples. It’s important to remember that hundreds of thousands of people are born with naturally inverted nipples; if this is you, you’ll already know that this is perfectly natural – so don’t panic.
So what you’re looking for are changes to the nipple.
* has the nipple is become inverted
* pointing in a different direction than usual
* has a rash
* has an unpleasant discharge or a blood stained discharge
If you notice any of these changes, go and see your GP as soon as possible. You never know, there may be other reasons for these symptoms, for example Mastitis or exzema, but it’s always better to get checked out.
So that’s you checked over for another month.
Ladies, remember to avoid checking your breasts during your period, as our boobs can be tender and lumpy anyway. So wait for a week after you’ve finished your period; then check your breasts.
Gentlemen, give yourself a full MOT once a month and check your testicles too. Most men find changes to their chest around the nipple area, so pay particular attention to your nipples.
ALWAYS go and seek medical advice if you find ANY changes or abnormalities.
Your doctor would rather say “don’t worry, you’re ok it’s nothing to worry about” than “Why didn’t you come and see me six months ago?”
You can also watch a video detailing self examination here Self Examination
Together let’s make C stand for Clear, not Cancer