Examining your own Breasts

Monday, April 30

I had always (naively) thought that breast cancer was something that happened to people older than me, and of course people other than me.  However, recently I have treated two ladies who are younger than me and have had breast cancer. This, together with my recent health dramas summarised here, and the news that I now have a higher chance of having breast cancer in the future myself, I wanted to look at some of the facts regarding breast cancer and how we should routinely check our own breasts too.  Below are a few of the things that I found.

BreastCancerCare.Org.Uk states the following facts, summarised and listed in italics:

The normal fonts are my own additions:)

What are the Chances of me Getting Breast Cancer?
Lifetime Risk for a Female of developing Cancer According to AGE:
Up to 29 years of age: 1 in 2000
Up to 39 years of age: 1 in 215
Up to 49 years of age: 1 in 50
Up to 59 years of age: 1 in 22
Up to 69 years of age: 1 in 13

So overall lifetime risk is 1 in 8. And the biggest risk for getting breast cancer is advancing age.

Can Men get Breast Cancer?
Men can also get breast cancer, but it is more common in women. In the UK, around 49 000
women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 300 men every year.

Are my chances higher if someone in my Family has had it?
Most cases of breast cancer don't run in the family.  Less than 10%.  For most people, having a relative with breast cancer, doesn't increase your risk.

However, always mention to your Doctor any familial history of cancer that you may have.

What are Mammograms, and when should I go for one?
Mammograms are a form of X-Ray of the breast and are used to screen for and detect breast cancer and other breast conditions early so that they can be treated as soon as possible.  Because breast cancer is more common in women over 50, women aged 50 to 70 are invited to have a mammogram on the NHS in the UK, every three years.

Other websites that I have looked at, recommend mammograms yearly over the age of 40, discuss with your Doctor what they recommend for you.

Does your Breast Size Matter?
Small, medium and large breasts all have the same risk of cancer.

If I find a lump, does it mean I have Cancer?
NO! Many Women experience lumps in their breasts that are totally harmless before their periods, and these usually disappear straight afterwards.

This is why it is best to check after you have had your period and always go to the Doctor if you are unsure or your instinct tells you that something is wrong!

As we all know with cancer, early detection is key, and so below are a few things to look out for as mentioned by CancerResearch UK on their website. Again Italics is what they say.

So what should I look out for?

  • A lump or thickening in an area of the breast
  • A change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Dimpling of the skin
  • A change in the shape of your nipple, particularly if it turns in, sinks into the breast, or has an irregular shape
  • A blood stained discharge from the nipple
  • A rash on a nipple or surrounding area
  • A swelling or lump in your armpit

Again, the above don't necessarily mean that you have breast cancer, but always get a Doctor to check anyway.

Both of the ladies, that are younger than me, that I treat after their breast cancer surgery, discovered their tumors themselves whilst examining their own breasts.

Five of the ladies that I am currently treating had their tumors diagnosed with routine mammograms.

Other patients that spring to mind reading the above, are a lady who went to her Doctor as her nipple had become inverted, another with cracked nipples and another who noticed a discharge from her nipple.

All of them had breast cancer.

All of them are alive today after being diagnosed and treated in time.

We should all check our own breasts once a month.

Below is a simple video that I found on how to do so. 

Hope that you have learned something from this!

Have a read tomorrow where I discuss a famous actress' lifestyle modifications after she was treated for breast cancer, which she discovered whilst doing a Self Breast Examination.

Have a happy healthy day after this rather sombre post!

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