Introducing The Harley Medical Group guide to performing a self-examination for breast cancer symptoms. October is known globally as the month of Breast Cancer awareness. Whether you are one of the 55,000 women or 370 men diagnosed with breast cancer each year, have been impacted by breast cancer through a family member or friend, or have observed the life-changing effects of breast cancer in the media, it is important for us all to be breast aware.
October is the perfect time to improve your understanding of breast cancer, the associated signs and symptoms, and develop your self-examination technique. We are here to provide the guidance and education you need for a successful Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond.
In the UK, 1 in 7 females will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
Early diagnosis is key when it comes to improving breast cancer prognosis. When a breast cancer is detected whilst it is small and localised, the chance of successful removal is improved. In fact, 98% of women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive their disease for at least 5 years. When breast cancer is diagnosed later on, this is reduced to around 26%. You can read more about the importance of early diagnosis on the CRUK cancer intelligence pages.
Being breast aware is the best way to enable early detection. The only way to identify abnormal change is to be aware of what ‘normal’ means for your body. This means that it’s important to get to know your body and talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you notice something that doesn’t seem right to you. Performing a regular self-examination for breast cancer symptoms is an easy way for you to take control of your health.
In the UK, the NHS breast screening programme invites women between the ages of 50 and 70 for a mammogram every 3 years. Women over the age of 70 are also eligible for continued screening but will need to arrange this via your local breast clinic. Mammography is an excellent way to pick up internal changes in breast density, and other possible indicators of breast cancer. However, regular breast self-checking is essential in between mammograms to maximise the likelihood of changes being detected early.
When suspicious changes are noticed, a visit to the GP could either put your mind at ease or allow further exploration through referral to the specialist breast clinic.
At The Harley Medical Group we are committed to ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our clients, and have put together a simple guide to self-examination for breast cancer symptoms to help you familiarise yourself with what is normal for you and your body.
Although breast cancer incidence increases with age, it is never too early to begin familiarising yourself with your body through self-examination. The best time to do your monthly breast examination is about 3-5 days after your period finishes, depending on the cyclical changes to your breasts. You should examine your breasts consistently once a month, leaving a long enough gap to detect a change, but regularly enough to know what is normal for you. If you do not menstruate, you should examine your breasts on the same day each month. We recommend keeping a journal to record any natural changes in the breast.
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, visit your doctor to get them checked:
For many women, the most convenient place to examine their breasts is during or after a shower when they are undressed and can access a mirror.
A self-examination for breast cancer symptoms involves five steps:
IMPORTANT: Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Learn from our implant partner Macom's Marketing Director, Nadja, how to perform a self-examination for breast cancer.