Still on the #PinkOctober matter! For the sake of those just joining the train, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we're dedicating all of this month's posts to support the cause. Last week we talked about the subject of breast cancer itself, it's prevalence in Ghana specifically, which groups it mainly affects etc. (If you haven't read that post please click below and read so you can be in sync)

This week we’re talking about self examination, and the symptoms of breast cancer. Finding breast cancer as early as possible gives you a better chance of successful treatment.

“You're naked in front of your mirror. That's all you need for a breast exam.” As silly as this may sound, it is absolute truth. All you need to perform a good self breast examination is good eyesight, hands, and a mirror. Believe it or not, MOST breast cancers are picked up by women after examining THEIR OWN breasts. And rightly so! Because you know your breasts more than anyone, so you would easily be able to detect any changes.

Which changes?, you may ask. Here's a list of possible alarming breast symptoms you may notice in your breast that must push you to the hospital! Although it may not always be due to cancer, it's better to be safe. 

  1. A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the rest of the breast, and is not the usual lumpiness of your breast.
  2. Swelling of all or a part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
  3. PAIN in the breast or nipple.
  4. Change in the size, shape or appearance of one breast or both. (Use your mirror here)
  5. Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling, scaling or flaking of the skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or the general breast skin, rashes, itchiness, redness, pitting of the skin over the breast, breast appearing like the skin of an orange etc.
  6. Any form of DISCHARGE from the nipple.
  7. An INVERTED nipple. (Instead of pointing outwards it begins to point inwards)
  8. Last but not least, please check your ARMPIT. The axillary tail of the breast is located in the armpit, so any pain, or abnormality seen in the armpit should also not be taken lightly.

How will you notice these symptoms? By performing your self breast examinations periodically. Here's how;

  1. Start by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. (Here you're looking for any change in the size, shape or color of the breasts.
  2. Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes, whiles paying attention to your ARMPIT as well.
  3. Next, lie down flat, and use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Keep your fingers firm, flat and together and feel in a circular motion.
  4. Cover the entire breast and then from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women.
  5. Repeat the hand movements while you are standing or sitting.

This exercise should be done as often as possible, and Not Less than once a week. Remember Breast Cancer is no respecter of age, sex (markedly less common in males though), or breast size. Once you own a pair of breasts, you are potentially at risk.

Most importantly, please let us pass on this information to our mothers, aunties and grandmothers ESPECIALLY, who may not see all the #BreastCancerAwareness campaigns on the internet, but are at a relatively greater risk.

Let us all be on the lookout, because EARLY DETECTION is what saves.


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