October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
As it stands, 23 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer in Ireland are between the age of 20 and 50, which makes early checks and detection more important than ever before.
One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, with 3,700 new cases being reported every year.
However, thanks to research, early intervention, and increased awareness survival rates have now increased to 85 percent, as more and more women are living far beyond their diagnosis.
So, how do you properly check your breasts and what changes are you supposed to look out for?
According to Breast Cancer Ireland, the eight signs of breast cancer are:
- A lump in the breast or armpit
- Dimpling or retraction of the nipple
- Changes around the nipple or discharge
- A puckering of the breast skin
- An unusual increase in the size of one breast
- A lowering of one breast
- Glands becoming enlarged
- Swelling in the armpit
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If you experience one or more of the above, you should always consult your GP – while also remaining vigilant about checking your own boobs for changes regularly.
Here’s how to check properly, according to the HSE:
1. Stand in front of a mirror or use a handheld mirror so that you can see your breasts from different angles. Put your hands on your hips and look for changes, and then raise your hands above your head and do the same.
2. Feel for any changes in the breast and surrounding area. Keep your fingers together, and using a circular motion, cover your entire breast from top to bottom and side to side.
3. Some people find it easier to check their boobs lying down or in the shower, so either of these self checks are perfectly acceptable too.
Before you check your boobs, you should also be aware of what’s normal and abnormal for you. For example, if you usually experience tender or lumpy breasts at certain times during your cycle, keep track of this and note anything abnormal.
Normal changes to your breasts can also occur if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you’ve gone through the menopause.
However, if there is anything you’re worried about you should always consult your doctor, no matter what stage of life you’re at.
You can find out more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month here.