October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Pemi-Baker Hospice & Home Health is dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of self-checks for both men and women. Breast cancer affects thousands of lives every year, and early detection through self-examinations can make a significant difference in the outcome. We urge everyone to take a moment to learn how to perform self-checks and understand the signs that should be discussed with their healthcare providers.
Breast cancer is not exclusive to women; it can affect men as well. Although the incidence in men is lower, it’s essential for all individuals to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Here are steps to perform a breast self-exam:
- Choose a consistent time: Select a time each month, preferably a few days after your menstrual cycle or on a specific date, to perform your breast self-exam. Consistency will help you notice any changes over time.
- Stand in front of a mirror: Examine your breasts visually, with your arms at your sides and then with your hands on your hips. Look for any changes in size, shape, or skin texture. Note any changes in your nipples.
- Raise your arms: Raise your arms and check for the same changes as mentioned in step 2.
- Lie down: Lie down on your back with a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Use your left hand to feel your right breast in a circular motion. Start from the outside and work your way toward the center, checking for lumps, thickening, or changes in texture.
- Switch sides: Repeat step 4 for your left breast, using your right hand.
- Check your armpits: Be sure to feel the lymph nodes in your armpits as well. Gently press your fingers into the tissue to check for any swelling or unusual bumps.
- Nipple discharge: If you notice any unusual discharge from your nipples, consult your healthcare provider.
Signs to discuss with your healthcare provider include:
- New lumps or changes in the size or shape of your breasts
- Unexplained pain or tenderness
- Skin changes such as redness, dimpling, or puckering
- Nipple changes, including discharge or inversion
- Swelling or lumps in your armpit
Early detection is crucial in the fight against breast cancer. Regular self-exams, in addition to mammograms and clinical breast exams, are essential for early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes. Remember that breast cancer can affect anyone, so it is vital for both men and women to be proactive in their health.