Although breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of the disease if detected early, it is one of the most pressing women’s health problems in India and around the world. According to India’s National Health Portal, it is the most common cancer among women in India, with a prevalence of at least 14%.
Know what is normal and what is not
A 2017 study in the journal Sensors highlighted that early detection plays a huge role in preventing this disease, especially in reducing breast cancer deaths. The study explains that mammography, ultrasound, computed tomography, and biopsy are available, but they are not cheap or easy for young women at high risk (breast cancer genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2).
Therefore, it is very important to raise awareness about breast cancer so that women can recognize the early warning signs of breast cancer and seek advice from their doctors for further screening. The American Cancer Society points out that knowing what your breasts look like is the first step in detecting any changes.
How to do a regular breast self-examination
Regular breast exams are the next step in understanding your breast health and detecting early signs of cancer. You can self-examine your breasts in the privacy of your own home using the following steps.
Step 1: Look at your breasts in the mirror for discoloration, uneven shape, dimpling, induration, bumps, redness, rashes, nipples, or underarm swelling. Make sure the breast is inverted and looks different.
Step 2: Raise your arms above your head and notice the same change in your breasts.
Step 3: Check the nipple for any physical deformity. Also check for watery, milky, yellow or bloody discharge from both nipples.
Step 4: Raise one hand and use the fingers of the other hand to check for any changes, especially hard protrusions, lumps, etc. Lower the arm, raise the other arm, and repeat on the other side.
Step 5: Lying on your back, lift one arm and use the other hand to check all areas of the breast and armpit for any changes, such as lumps or bumps. Lower the arm, raise the other arm, and repeat on the other side.
Warning signs to look out for
Do breast self-exams at least once a month and see your doctor right away if you notice any of the early signs of breast cancer.
New lumps in breasts and armpits
Pain in the breast or nipple
Thickening or swelling in the breast area
Dimpled skin, especially if it looks like the outer surface of an orange peel
Invert or invert the nipple
Red, dry or peeling breast skin
Watery, milky, or bloody nipple discharge (especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding)
Swollen lymph nodes in the armpits, armpits, collarbone, or other areas near the breast