More than 6000 South African women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, but one of the very best ways to protect your breast health is self-examination. Taking ten minutes, once a month, to check your breasts in the privacy of your bathroom or bedroom isn’t too difficult, but making sure you conduct a self-examination properly is important.
Check your breasts at home
Conducting a self-examination is relatively simple, and CANSA has created a helpful guide to assist. Download it, print it out, and keep it close at hand when you need it. You should check your breasts once a month, and preferably around the time that you are ovulating. If you are unsure about conducting a breast self-examination, ask your doctor or clinic sister for advice.
What to do if you find a lump
During your self-examination, you may find a lump on your breast. Don’t panic, because many lumps are entirely benign (that means nothing to worry about!) but it is important that you get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible. If you’re conducting regular, monthly self-examinations, you’ll be very familiar with the way your breasts feel, and will be able to quickly spot any changes in your breasts.
What happens next
Your doctor will conduct a breast examination, and then refer you to a nearby screening facility. Depending upon your age, health, and other variables, you’ll undergo an ultrasound and possibly a mammogram, to identify whether or not the lump you felt is something to be concerned about. Your doctor, the radiographer, and medical team, will advise and guide you all the way.
When should I start?
Teaching your daughter how to conduct a self-examination for her breasts is important. It’s recommended that regular self-examinations begin after adolescence, when breasts have fully developed. If your teenager is, however, concerned about her breast health, book her an appointment with your doctor, for an examination and check-up.
LifeDoc Can Help
Now available for download as a mobile application, LifeDoc™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, making it easier to keep track of appointments and schedule those important check-ups, while securely storing your personal medical history. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.