Check Yourself Out!

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s only right that we all celebrate by making the conscious decision to start checking ourselves regularly!

According to Breast Cancer Ireland, 74% of Irish women with breast cancer discovered the lump themselves. Generally, women who are not at hereditary risk of breast cancer do not begin getting mammograms and breast checks until age 50, so it’s incredibly important for us to become familiar with our bodies so that any irregularities are discovered in time. 

Typically, it’s recommended you check yourself for lumps and bumps once a month; there’s three primary ways to do this.

  1. Shower/ Standing

Put your right arm behind your head and use your left hand to check your right breast, and vice versa. Move the flat parts of your fingertips in circles around your entire breast, from the outside to the inside, and going out as far as your armpit. If you feel any lumps or knots, you should consult your GP.

  1. Lying Down

When lying down flat, your breast tissue spreads out evenly along your chest wall, making it easier to identify lumps or knots.  Then repeat the same process as above. Make sure to also squeeze your nipple to check for any discharge that could be released.

  1. Mirror 

Look for visual irregularities in your breast including swelling, redness, dimpling, large pores or change in nipple shape. No woman’s two breasts are exactly even and symmetrical so it’s important to look out for these irregularities on one of your breasts and then the other.

 

According to Breast Cancer Ireland, 2,890 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in Ireland, and 30% of these diagnoses are of women aged 20-50.

I had never checked myself for lumps before until this October when Breast Cancer Ireland released an infographic on how to do it. I was sure I wouldn’t find anything, having only just turned 20, but I tried their method out of pure curiosity. Low and behold I found a small knot-like lump on my right breast! I went to the doctors the next dayand my GP reassured me it did not seem to be a dangerous lump, but said she would refer me to a breast clinic just to be absolutely certain. The process was not scary at all, and it just goes to show how important it is to check yourself no matter how old you are!

If you find a lump in your breast, be sure to contact your GP. 80% of lumps found and reported to a doctor are not cancerous. However, for your own peace of mind you should check it out just to be 100%. 1 in 9 Irish women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and the best way to prevent it is an early diagnosis.