Checking your breasts for cancer regularly has always been important, but with reports that up to one million women in the UK reportedly missed vital breast screening appointments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, spreading awareness about how to do so correctly has never been so crucial.
"As much we need to be remembering our masks every day and sanitising our hands, we also need to be checking our bodies," says Helen Addis, a producer for ITV's Lorraine who set up the breast-checking campaign Change and Check last year.
The Change and Check campaign focuses on raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and began by placing advice on how to check your breasts in changing rooms across the country.
When the high street closed due to the pandemic, the message was brought directly to doorsteps, with pamphlets delivered by Royal Mail.
Ahead of October's Breast Cancer Awareness month, there has never been a better time to not only discuss the disease that one in eight women will be diagnosed with in their lifetime, but to proactively encourage proper breast checking.
Addis created Change and Check after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. She was encouraged to check her breasts after a television segment, so realised how important it was to inspire other women to do the same.
So far, 36 women have come forward to credit the campaign with saving their lives, and Addis hopes this year even more individuals can be encouraged to check their breasts and report any changes to their doctor.
How to check for the signs of breast cancer by Dr. Hilary Jones
The signs to look for
Visible changes in shape or size
Skin changes such as; dimpling, puckering or a rash around the nipple
Lumps or bumps
Bloody discharge from the nipple
When to check
Menstruating women should check their breasts following their period each month
For menopausal and post-menopausal women, pick a date each month that suits you
How to check
Sit comfortably in front of a mirror with hands on your hips so your chest muscles are relaxed
Look at the contour of the breast to check that it matches on each side and see if there is any puckering or dimpling
Look for any change in the nipple such as a rash or pulling in
Look for any skin change all around the nipple
Using the fingers of your left hand to examine the right breast, walk your middle three fingers around the breast. You're feeling for any abnormal lumps or bumps or any irregularity that hasn't been there before
Divide the breast into four quarters
Start on the inner upper quarter, walking those fingers around the breast
Do the same on the lower inner quarter and then across to the lower right quarter and then the upper right quarter
Walk fingers up to the tail of the breast in the armpit
Walk your fingers back to the areola around the nipple
Repeat steps above on the left breast, using your right hand to do so
If you notice anything unusual, see your doctor or nurse as soon as possible
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