*Although every care has been taken to use gender-inclusive language within this post, certain stats only include male/female information. No discrimination or offense has been intended.
Whether you call them breasts, boobs, pecks, chests, melons, or baps, everyone should know how to check them.
When you hear the term breast cancer, you may only associate this with someone with breasts. However, according to the website Breast Cancer now, around 370 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK.
Fair enough, this is not on the same scale as someone with breasts, where around 55,000 people are diagnosed each year in the UK but it’s still enough that means everybody should check themselves.
Breast screening is offered to people with breasts when they reach the age of 50 and they’ll be invited back every 3 years until their 71st birthday. But that doesn’t mean that people under the age of 50 have no risk of developing breast cancer.
I probably began checking my breasts when I was approximately 20. I wasn’t really too sure what I was doing but I’d have a feel and a poke around and got used to what my breasts would feel like. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve researched how to do it correctly and actually done it consistently.
And I personally believe that you should be doing it too.
Why I Believe Everyone Should Check Themselves
Sadly, I’ve lost two family members because they ignored a problem.
I lost my nan to breast cancer when I was 9. It was such a difficult loss for me, and it was actually the start of my anxiety journey.
My nan developed an inverted nipple. In case you’re not aware, this is actually a sign of breast cancer. Unfortunately, my nan ignored it, until she couldn’t ignore it anymore.
Not breast cancer related, but my dad sadly passed away from lung cancer this summer. He had a cough that he ignored for months and months until he went to the doctor.
I promised myself that I would never ignore a problem.
So when I was checking my breasts recently, and I noticed a small amount of discharge coming from one of my nipples, I called the doctor straight away. I had my appointment at the doctor’s surgery, then was referred to the breast cancer clinic. After a two week wait, I had my appointment at the clinic, was thoroughly checked, and was given the all clear.
I had two weeks of worry, then peace of mind.
However, what if it had been something? Well, according to Cancer Research UK, breast cancers found early need less treatment and are more likely to be cured.
So, I want to know, are you checking your breasts regularly? And I don’t want to hear the excuses of, I forget, I don’t know how, I’m still young, blah blah blah.
Cancer does not discriminate.
So, I don’t care whether you check yourself in the shower, in bed, whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or if you get your significant other to lend a helping hand, just do it.
Checking Your Breasts
Here are some hints and tips to get you started. Obviously, I am not a medical expert, so please do make sure you visit the NHS website for the most up to date advice.
Firstly, Find Out Whats Normal For You
For people who menstruate, their bodies go through many changes throughout the month and you may find that your breasts become lumpier around your period, so it’s important to know what is normal for you. By doing this you will be able to quickly detect any unusual changes to your body.
Make sure that you are also checking your breasts in the mirror so that you know what they normally look like. It doesn’t matter if they are high and perky, or saggy with that annoying hair that keeps coming back no matter how many times you pluck it. Find what ‘your normal’ is.
Some people find this easier to do in the shower, however, do what’s easiest for you. Using 3 or 4 fingers, keeping them flat, firmly in small circles feel the whole of your breast. Make sure that you check right up to your collarbone and into your armpit.
You are checking for any lumps or thickening of the breast tissue.
Another sign to look out for is pain or discomfort in your breast.
There are also signs and changes that you need to look out for. These include:
- Puckering, dimpling, or bulging of the skin
- Swelling around the collarbone or armpit
- Changes to the shape of your breast
- Nipple becoming inverted or changing direction
- Redness or a rash
- Dischage, fluid, or crusting from the nipple
It is important to check your breasts in a few different positions as changes are not always immediately noticeable. First, look for the changes whilst your hands are on your hips. Next, raise your arms above your head and check. Finally, lean forward and look for any puckering, dimpling, etc of the skin.
Checking Your Chest
It’s not just people with breasts that should be checking themselves. Here are the signs to look out for on your chest:
- A lump or lumps in the chest or armpit
- A rash or sore swollen skin around the nipple
- The nipple becoming inverted
- Discharge from the nipple
- Crusting around the nipple
Frequency – You should aim to check yourself once a month.
I have a memory like a sieve so I need all the help I can get. If you are the same, CoppaFeel! is a brilliant charity that offers a monthly text reminder. You can also get a FREE shower sticker to remind you. Order your own here.
Like I said above, by checking yourself regularly you can find out what is normal for your body and detect any unusual changes quickly.
Please don’t ever feel embarrassed about going to your GP. It is always best to get things checked out. They’re not going to tell you off for wasting their time. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt, get it checked out.
Would you mind doing me a favour? If you found this post helpful, please do share it with others. You never know who it might help.