The Importance of Checking your Breasts

Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women, affecting 1 in 8 of us in the UK – a statistic which uses ‘affects’ in the most literal sense. The statistics don’t account for the family, friends, children, parents and loved ones who also endure the pain of seeing them and theirs suffer. Essentially: cancer affects everyone.

Finding and treating it early is one of the best ways to improve chances of recovery. Fortunately, breast cancer is one strand of cancer which can be detected through procedures as simple as breast checking and screening – and it’s essential that we spread awareness to save lives.

Firstly, check your breasts. This goes for everyone – no excuses. 5 minutes every few weeks should do the trick. According to breastcancer.org, lie down in a comfortable position and ‘use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a penny. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.’ Campaigns such as Coppafeel have worked at various events and alongside celebs, aiming to increase breast checking awareness amongst the public with their slogans ‘get it off your chest’ and ‘we’re joined at the nip’. Breast checking is such a simple and quick means of ensuring your health, particularly for younger women who don’t have regular screenings. What you’re feeling for is any lumps, bumps or irregular shapes and skin markings – if there is anything that causes you concern, you should contact your GP.

Secondly is the routine examination for women ages 47 – 73, breast screening. If you fall in this age bracket, you’ll be invited for breast screening, otherwise called a mammogram, every 3 years. According to the NHS, there are a few downsides to this check-up: it can be uncomfortable, and if there’s nothing wrong it might seem largely pointless. And yet, breast screening saves lives – 1 in 25 women are called back for further assessment, and 1 in 4 of these are diagnosed with breast cancer. Screenings pick up things we ourselves might not be able to detect; they’re a bit like an X-Ray, and even if it’s just for peace of mind, they are highly successful in detecting cancer as soon as possible so that treatment can begin.

The reason checking your breasts is important is because it’s so easy, yet can be so essential to your health. If you have any queries or concerns, check out these sites for more info:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/breast-cancer/

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cancer-of-the-breast-female/Pages/Diagnosis.aspx