Unfortunately, breast cancer is quite common. Except for skin cancer, it is the most common cancer in American women. The average risk of developing breast cancer is about 13%, or in other words, there is a 1 in 8 chance.
Taking care of your health and being preventative is so important. Other than regular doctors visits and check-ups it’s not always possible to know what’s going on with your body. However, when it comes to breast cancer awareness and prevention it is possible to give yourself at home breast exams. This should not replace going to the doctor but this is in addition to. I “feel it on the first” each month as a reminder to myself to check for any abnormalities. To make sure I don’t forget to do this, it’s been helpful to have a recurring reminder set in my calendar.
There are two important components to doing an at home exam: Look and Feel.
Check for any differences between your breasts. Do you notice a difference in shape and redness? Place your hands on your hips and turn from side to side, bend over, raise your arms up; by moving your body into specific positions, masses that may not be completely visible when you stand in front of the mirror normally, may be seen.
The video below gives a description and tutorial on what each of these positions look like.
In order to feel your breasts properly, lie down with one arm under your head and with a medium touch, feel into your breasts. Not only is it important to feel on and around your breast but also on your upper chest, clavicle and even under arm area where your lymph nodes are. You are feeling for anything that feels abnormal and trust me, you’ll know if you do feel anything abnormal. You may have heard of feeling for lumps and wondered what that felt like – as someone who had a phyllodes tumor, it felt very much like a hard, round marble (like the video describes).