It is important that every woman is breast aware. This means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, you will recognise it. The sooner you notice a change the better, because if cancer is found early, treatment is more likely to be successful. Get into the habit of looking at and feeling your breasts from time to time.
What changes should I be aware of?
- A change in size or shape â€" it may be that one breast has become larger
- Changes in the nipple â€" in direction or shape, pulled in or flattened nipple
- Changes on or around the nipple â€" rash, flaky or crusted skin
- Changes in the skin â€" dimpling, puckering or redness
- â€˜Orange Peel' appearance of the skin caused by unusually enlarged pores
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone
- A lump, any size, or thickening in your breast
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit
- Look for changes
- One way of looking is by using a mirror so that you can see the breasts from different angles.
Feel for changes
An easy way of feeling your breast is with a soapy hand in the bath or shower. Some women prefer to feel for changes while lying down.
The 5 Point Breast Awareness Code
1 Know what is normal for you
2 Know what changes to look for
3 Look and feel
4 Discuss any changes with your GP without delay
5 Attend for routine breast screening if you are aged between 50 and 64
Know what is normal for you
Your breasts will go through many normal changes during your life. For example, they are affected by changes in your hormones during the following times:
The menstrual cycle
Each month, when you are having periods, your breasts often change. They can become bigger, tender and lumpy usually before a period starts and return to normal once the period is over. Some women, however, may have tender, lumpy breasts throughout their cycle.
What to do if you find something
If you do notice any change in your breasts, see your GP or student Health Centre as soon as possible. Remember that most breast changes are not cancer and are harmless.
For Further Information:
Please call into the Student Health Centre on Breast Self-Examination.
Action Breast HELPLINE Free phone 1800 30 90 40
'Used with kind permission of Action Breast Cancer (a division of the Irish Cancer Society)'.