Stephen McCulley, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon. MBChb, FCS(SA)Plast, FRCS(plast)

Checking For Breast Lumps

Before beginning to check your breasts for any irregularities or lumps, it is important to know how your breasts normally feel and how they look. This way any abnormalities can be easily spotted by you and taken to a GP. A lump in breast tissue can be early signs of breast cancer, so it is vital to check your breasts regularly so any problems can be quickly noticed. Also, many women report that their breasts feel differently at different times of the month-breasts can be tenderer around a woman’s menstrual period, so this is another thing to take into consideration.

When checking breasts, it could be easier to undergo a thorough check in the bath or shower. Running a soapy hand over the armpit and breast area with a flat palm can be a good way of making sure every area is covered. To examine every angle of the breast it can be useful to move your arm around for extra coverage. Looking at your breasts in the mirror can also outline any obvious visual changes.

There are a few things to check for when examining breasts. Aside from lumps, you should also look for any discomfort in one or both breasts, especially if this pain doesn’t go away and is new. Look out for any discharge (that isn’t milky) or bleeding in the nipple. Changes in the position of the nipple such as the nipples pointing differently should be noted, along with any rashes around the nipple and areola area. Basically speaking, if you spot anything that isn’t quite normal with your breast it can’t hurt to get it checked out by your GP. In drastic cases, a lumpectomy will cut off the lump at its source, but many cases do not come to that.

Having a mammogram can be the most effective way of checking if everything is normal with your breasts, and if there is an abnormality such as a lump there is no need to panic as you are in safe hands with a qualified medical professional. Even though breast cancer is most commonly found in women, men can also suffer from it (albeit in rare cases) so it is important for men to check their chest area as well.

Manually checking your breasts for irregularities is a quick, simple and effective way of making sure everything is normal with your breasts and armpits, and if anything does occur, contact your GP for further information and to answer any questions you may have.

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