Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. If diagnosed early, breast cancer has a good chance of being cured.
Some screening actions can only be performed by a health professional: mammography or clinical breast examination. However, it is important to be alert to your body's signals in order to detect the early signs of breast cancer. Early detection of breast cancer is very important because the earlier it is detected, the better it will be treated.
How do I perform a breast self-examination?
- During the examination, your position should allow you to see your breasts well. Put yourself in a natural position (arms at your side and back straight), so that you can see any asymmetries in your breasts. Make sure you have a mirror in front of you. Visual examination is as important as palpation, which is not sufficient.
- The visual examination: it simply consists of observing your breasts in the mirror to detect possible abnormal discharges from the nipple, spots, cracks, folds, crusts, scales or anything else that might be unusual. It is also advisable for the visual examination to take several postures. (arms by the side of the body, arms raised, hands on the hips, leaning forward, lying on the side)
- Breast self-examination: simply raise your left arm, gently palpate your left breast with your right hand: from the outside in, looking for lumps, pain or itching. Do the same for the area between the breast and the armpit, then for the armpit itself. You can then repeat the procedure on the right breast.
Nipple self-examination: Gently squeeze the nipple to see if there is any discharge. If there is a discharge when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, consult a health care professional. If your nipple is sore, inflamed or shrinks in on itself, see a health care professional!
We also advise you to examine the area between the two breasts.
There are 3 methods of palpation:
The vertical palpation method: palpation is done from top to bottom, starting at the top of the armpit
The radial palpation method: by making straight lines, starting from your nipple, towards the outside of the breast.
The circular palpation method: by making a spiral from the top of the armpit to the nipple
What are the warning signs of possible breast cancer?
There are several signals that can be alarming such as: redness, discharge, visible masses or lumps, hollows, retracted nipples, deterioration of the skin texture, change in the size or shape of the breast, change in the color of the areolas, persistent eczema or ulceration of the nipple, increase in the volume of lymph nodes, thickening or hardening of the skin.
When and how often should self palpation be performed?
Ideally, self palpation should be done every month a few days after the end of your period or on a fixed date when you are menopausal. The examination is recommended for all women, regardless of age (because although it is rarer, breast cancer can also affect young women).
Self palpation is therefore an important habit to develop. However, it does not replace regular visits to your gynecologist, general practitioner or midwife.
Elia is committed to the month of October, for Pink October! For this occasion, we have created a very limited edition of our menstrual panties Simone to support the Pink October campaign and the Marie Curie Institute.
50% of our profits will be donated to the research against breast cancer.