This October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you'll (hopefully) be spotting reminders left, right and centre, urging you to check your breasts regularly. But it's not just for the month that you need to be aware of checking your boobs; it's a habit you should be maintaining all year round, no matter your age or family history.
It's important to do monthly so that you can get to know your normal, meaning if anything changes, you'll be better placed to spot it.
Every year in the UK around 5,000 women under the age of 45 are diagnosed with breast cancer and it's the most common cis-female cancer in the country. When you consider that, it's pretty clear that we should all be checking our boobs at least once a month.
But if the prospect of a self-examination seems daunting, don't worry: we didn't go to med school either. And it's actually a lot easier than you think, because there's no right way to check your breasts. There are, however, a few important things you need to remember to look and feel for, so follow our guide and you'll be a pro before you know it.
How often should you check your breasts for lumps?
There's no specific number of times per week/month/year that you should be checking your breasts. But breast cancer charity CoppaFeel!, who we partnered up with to make the above video, like to alert people who subscribe to their free reminder service to give themselves a check once a month.
The main thing is that you self-examine regularly enough to know what's normal for your boobs; that way, you can tell if something has changed, and you can go to a doctor to investigate if it doesn't go away.
What should you be checking for?
One of the biggest misconceptions about breast cancer is that you will get a lump if you develop the disease. While a lump is undoubtedly one of the more common symptoms, this is not the only thing you should be monitoring. Here are a series of things you should be looking and feeling for when you check your breasts:
Changes in skin texture such as puckering/dimpling
Nipple inversion and changes in direction
Swelling in your armpit or around collar bone
A sudden change in size or shape
A rash or crusting of the nipple or surrounding area
Lumps and thickening
Constant, unusual pain in your breast or armpit
Make sure you examine right up to your collarbone and into armpits (lifting your arms up will make this easier)
Remember: There is no right or wrong way to check your breasts - as long as you’re doing it regularly.
For more information, head over to the CoppaFeel! website.
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