Checking Your Breasts

Early detection can be achieved through monthly self-breast examination. Any woman over the age of 20 should start doing this as breast cancer does not only affect older women, even though the risk increases with age.

Ways of Diagnosing Breast Cancer

There methods of detecting breast cancer include:

•    Self examination
•    Doctor’s examination
•    Mammograms
•    Ultrasounds
•    Biopsy

Self Breast Examination

Every woman should be aware how to do a self breast examination. The most common methods are:

1.    In the shower

A soapy breast is easier to examine detect lumps in. To do this, place your right arm behind your head and check your breast in a circular motion. Repeat the process for the left breast.

2.    Lying on a bed

Place your right arm behind your head. Use the pads of your three fingers (3 middle fingers) of your left hand and feel for lumps in each breast. Use small, circle motions to feel the breast tissue.

Increase and decrease the level of pressure as you feel the tissues. Light pressure works best for tissues closer to the skin and harder pressure works for tissues closest to the chest cavity. While feeling move your fingers up and down the breast, also check the underarm and collar bone area.

3.    In front of the mirror

Stand with your breasts exposed, shoulders back and arms on your hips. Make sure that:
–    your breasts are the usual size and shape
–    breast color is the same
–    there is no sign of dimpling or swelling

Next, raise your arms and look for the same things as above.

Any changes in the breast or lumps should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • Lump in the breast or underarm, luckily most of these lumps are not cancerous, that is they are benign.
  • Discharge from the nipple, which is normally reddish in color. Any discharge should be checked by a doctor if you have not recently given birth.
  • The nipple starts to become inverted or turned in
  • The skin of the breast becomes dimpled looking somewhat like the skin of an orange
  • Your breast is warm, almost feverish
  • Change in shape of the breast
  • Swelling in the armpit

In the vast majority of cases, there are few early indications that something is wrong. It is important to have monthly self breast examinations and regular mammograms after age 40.

SupportA lump is not always the only indication of breast cancer. Women should know their breasts so they can spot unusual changes early. More than 80 percent of lumps found in breasts are benign, that is, not cancerous.

Treatment Options for Breast Cancer

Once symptoms are observed and a diagnosis is received there are a wide variety of treatment options available. Some of the most popular methods of treating breast cancer are:

  • Mastectomy: This is the complete removal of the breast. With this surgical procedure varying amounts of the breast, lymph nodes and tissue are removed depending on the extent of the cancer. Thankfully, women can now opt to have a breast surgically reconstructed. An attempt is made to save much of the skin making immediate reconstruction possible.
  • Chemotherapy: This is the injecting of cancer killing drugs through the blood stream. This medication works to destroy cancer cells.
  • Lumpectomy: As the name suggests this means taking the lump out of the breast as well as some surrounding tissues. This procedure is also known as breast preservation surgery. The amount of breast tissue that is removed varies.
  • Combination therapy: This is a combination of two or more treatment options.

Other ways to treat and or help alleviate the symptoms of breast cancer are alternative medicine and radiation therapy. It is also important to know that men also get breast cancer, though cases are rarer.

Breast cancer is no longer a death sentence, however, you need to catch it early by examining your breast each month and having mammograms if over 40