Pinktober: How to Give Yourself a Breast Exam
Happy Pinktober everyone! For those of you who have popped in the store, you’ve surely noticed that pink - in all its hues - is clearly our favorite color. While its many shades can evoke feelings of joy, nostalgia, sass, and charm, for the month of October, pink stands for breast cancer awareness. Although a sobering topic, we believe that information and awareness is an important step in fighting this horrible disease.
As a shop that specializes in lingerie, we love women in all shapes and forms and celebrate the female figure. We love our breasts and want to help our customers be more informed about theirs. While breast cancer is not something that can be prevented, there are some steps you can take to be more informed and help with early detection.
First, some statistics:
- The American Cancer Society estimates that 40,920 women will die from breast cancer in the USA in 2018.
- Breast cancer is more common in White women and African American women than other races and ethnicities.
- It is the second leading cause of death from cancer in women (lung cancer being the 1st).
- Death rates have decreased by 39% from 1989 to 2015. This is believed to be in part due to early detection from screening, increased awareness, and better treatments.
- 3.1 million women are breast cancer survivors (this figure includes those that are currently being treated/ completing their treatment).
These numbers are both alarming and encouraging. Alarming because it shows just how widespread cancer is and how this diseases has affected millions of women. Encouraging because of the decrease in death rates and the number of women of have survived this terrible disease. Above all, these numbers show that cancer can affect anybody, at any time and stage of their lives without warning. The only way to prepare for that is to regularly get check ups and give yourself a self exam.
While a monthly self breast exam isn't sufficient on its own and should be done in conjunction with regular mammograms from your doctor or breast ultrasounds, knowing how to give yourself a breast exam is important. It makes you more familiar with your breast and therefore more equipped to detect any abnormalities and changes that could turn out to be early signs of breast cancer. Early detection leads to more successful treatments.
So here’s a quick guide on how to give yourself a breast self exam
Step 1: Take a good look
Examine your breast in the mirror standing with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips. See if you breast look to be their normal shape and size with no discoloration or swelling. Watch out for any signs of dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin; changes in the position of your nipples or if your nipple is inverted; redness, soreness, rashes or swelling. If you see any of those signs please consult with your doctor.
Step 2: Raise your hand above your head
Check for the same signs as step one, but this time with your arms raised above your head. Also watch out for any fluid coming out of your nipples that are watery, milky, yellow,or blood.
Step 3: Lie down
While lying down use your right hand to feel you left breast and your left hand to feel your right breast. Keeping your fingers flat and together apply a firm but smooth touch in circular quarter size motions. Cover the entire area top to bottom and side to side. Make sure you go from your collar bone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage. Apply light pressure to feel tissue just beneath the surface; use medium pressure for the tissue in the middle of your breasts; and apply firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. Use a pattern when you feel to make sure you covered the whole breast.
Step 4: Stand or shower
Some women feel it is easier to feel their breast in the shower. Repeat the steps listed in step 3 and feel for lumps while you take a shower.
If you find a lump, don’t panic as most lumps turn out to be benign. However you should still have it checked by a doctor just to be on the safe side.
Do your self exam a the same day each month. Try to aim for several days after your period ends so that your breast are less tender and swollen. If you no longer get your period aim for an easy date like the start of every month. The more familiar you are with your breasts the easier it is to detect any changes.