#BreastCancer: Simple tips for self-examination

Since the month of October is #breastcancerawarenessmonth, Dr Reshma J Palep, consultant general and breast cancer surgeon, Mumbai shares some vital tips. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. So, women should go for regular check-ups after the age of 40, advises Dr Palep

Health alert: Cancer rate doubles in India, especially among women

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of this disease.

This woman’s guide to breast cancer will empower them to take self care and spread this knowledge to others. Breast cancer starts when cells in the breast begin to grow out of control. These cells usually form a tumour that can often be seen on an x-ray or felt as a lump. The tumour is malignant (cancer) if the cells can grow into (invade) surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to distant areas of the body. As the patient gets older the chances of getting breast cancer increases.

Self-breast examination steps:

1: After a bath , step in front of a large mirror and put your hands on your hips. Look at the size, shape, and colour of your breasts. They should look as they normally do with no visible dimples, puckering, or swelling.

2: Raise your arms above your head and clasp your hands together. Examine your breasts as you did in step one and look for dimples, puckering, swelling, rashes, or inverted nipples.

3: Place your arms at your side and gently squeeze each nipple between finger and thumb to check for any discharge.

4: Next, lie down, and use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Taking three fingers, firmly press the breast in small circles from top to bottom and side to side. Make sure to go as far as the collarbone to the top of the abdomen and from cleavage to armpit. Do this three times, first with a soft touch, then with increased pressure, and on the very last time press firmly and deeply.

5: Finally, either sitting in a chair or standing, feel your breasts as you did in step four.