Very recently, my aunt was detected with breast cancer. initially she didn't notice the lump that had formed, but once she noticed it she had to consult a gyneac who asked for an autopsy done. she has been operated too and is now well. the reason why i mentioned this incident is because. this happens to every other women. women are prone to breast cancer, which is a curable disease, almost. the worse part is, we women don't take care of ourselves or we neglect our bodies. thus, it is important for every lady, or that matter men too, to know about this ailment which is very much curable. before going in detail about breast cancer it is important we know what exactly is breast cancer.
The term “breast cancer” refers to a malignant tumor that has developed from cells in the breast. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, which are the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Less commonly, breast cancer can begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast.
Breast cancer is always caused by a genetic abnormality (a “mistake” in the genetic material). However, only 5-10% of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited from your mother or father. About 90% of breast cancers are due to genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and the “wear and tear” of life in general.According to the American Cancer Society, any of the following unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
- swelling of all or part of the breast
- skin irritation or dimpling
- breast pain
- nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
- redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
- a nipple discharge other than breast milk
- a lump in the underarm area
These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. It’s important to get any breast changes checked out promptly by a doctor.
How Do I Perform a Breast Self-Exam?
To perform a breast self-exam, follow the steps described below.
|Step 2 and 3|
In the mirror:
- Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Look at your breasts. Don't be alarmed if they do not look equal in size or shape. Most women's breasts aren't. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Look for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling or change in the direction of the nipples.
- Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Turn from side to side so you can inspect the outer part of your breasts.
- Then bend forward toward the mirror. Roll your shoulders and elbows forward to tighten your chest muscles. Your breasts will fall forward. Look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
- Now, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Again, turn from side to side to inspect your breasts' outer portions. Remember to inspect the border underneath your breasts. You may need to lift your breasts with your hand to see this area.
- Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple. Look for any discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
In the shower
- Now, it's time to feel for changes in the breast. It is helpful to have your hands slippery with soap and water. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. Place your left hand on your hip and reach with your right hand to feel in the left armpit. Repeat on the other side.
- Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
- With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Repeat on the other side.
- Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Place your left hand on the upper portion of your right breast with fingers together and flat. Body lotion may help to make this part of the exam easier.
- Think of your breast as a face on a clock. Start at 12 o'clock and move toward 1 o'clock in small circular motions. Continue around the entire circle until you reach 12 o'clock again. Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you've felt the entire breast. Make sure to feel the upper outer areas that extend into your armpit.
- Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
Repeat steps 9, 10 and 11 on your other breast.
Interestingly, cancerous tumors are more likely to be found in certain parts of the breast over others. If you divide the breast into 4 sections, the approximate percentage of breast cancers found in each area are (in clockwise pattern):
- 41% upper, outer quadrant
- 14% upper, inner quadrant
- 5% lower, inner quadrant
- 6% lower, outer quadrant
- 34% in the area behind the nipple
Almost half occur in the upper outer quadrant of the breast, towards the armpit. Some physicians refer to this region as the "tail" of the breast and encourage women to examine it closely.
In the month of October, breast cancer is recognized by survivors, family and friends of survivors and/or victims of the disease. A pink ribbon is worn to recognize the struggle that sufferers face when battling the cancer.
I hope you find this information is useful. its better to be informed than to be ingorant and suffer. specially since women have the tendency to neglect, if we take care we can detect the problem before it becomes life threatning. look our for the symtoms and remember there is no shame to do so, it will ultimately help you. Spread the word, save lives.