Incidence of breast cancer is increasing rapidly not only in developed countries like USA but in developing countries like India also. Women of 40 years or above constitute the risk-prone group, more so in urban areas. Awareness is the key when it comes to breast cancer because there is about 90% chance of cure in first stage.
Women should learn to do self examination of the breast because it increases the chances of early detection of the disease. About 40% of cases are detected by women after feel the lump upon self breast examination.
So, let us learn how to do self breast examination:
1. In the shower: Use pads of your finger. Move from outside of the breast to inside in a circular pattern and check entire breast including armpit region. Check for any lumps, hardened knots or thickenings. Do this examination once a month.
2. In front of mirror:
(i) Observe and visually inspect your breasts first with arms on your sides and then arms raised overhead. Look for any swelling, changes in contour, changes in nipple or dimpling of skin.
(ii) Place your palm on your hips and flex your chest muscle. Look for signs of dimpling, puckering or changes in nipple,etc.
3. Lying down: Lie down, put a pillow under right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. Using light, medium and firm pressure, move pads of fingers of left hand in circular fashion around right breast and cover the entire breast and armpit. Look for any lump, knot or swelling. Also squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge. Repeat the procedure for the left breast.
If you find a lump or any other sign, consult a doctor who may advise you to get yourself screened. 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous, therefore, there is no need to panic. Women should do breast self examination once a month. The best time to do it is about a week after your period starts. It can happen to anyone so don’t feel shy to talk about it.
Pink ribbon is the international symbol of breast cancer awareness. Go Pink!