What signs do I need to look out for?
The signs of Breast Cancer are not the same for all women. It is important to know how your breasts normally look and feel. Many women have a pattern of lumpiness in their breasts, which is normal. But if you feel or see any change in your breasts or underarms, contact your GP right away.
How do I do a Breast self-exam?
Breast Self-Exam is a tool that may help you learn what is normal for you. A self-exam includes looking at and feeling your breasts to check for any changes.
Step 1: Look for changes
Best to do this in front of the mirror so you can see your breasts from different angles:
- Hold your arms at your side
- Hold your arms over your head
- Press your hands on your hips and tighten your chest muscles
- Bend forward with your hands on your hips
Step 2: Feel for changes
An easy way of feeling your breast is with a soapy hand in the bath or shower. Some women prefer to feel for changes while lying down:
- Lie down on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder
- Use the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand to check your right breast
- Press using light, medium and firm pressure in a circle without lifting your fingers off the skin
- Follow an up and down pattern
- Feel for changes in your breast, above and below your collarbone and in your armpit
- Repeat on your left breast using your right hand
Can I reduce my risk of getting Breast Cancer?
The most important things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer are to:
- Check your breasts every month and contact your GP immediately if you notice any spot any abnormal changes
- Take part in the BreastCheck screening programme. It’s free every 2 years for women aged 50 to 69
- Talk to your GP about earlier screening if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Keep a healthy weight for your height
- Stay active: Women who are physically active have a lower risk of breast cancer than less active women. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week
- Limit alcohol: The more you cut down, the more you can reduce your risk. Limit your breast cancer risk by drinking no more than one standard drink a day
- Stop smoking
- Breastfeed your baby: The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby, the more she reduces her breast cancer risk. It’s best to breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months, if possible
There are many brilliant resources available on Breast Cancer and Breast checks, check them out below:
Irish Cancer Society – Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Ireland
HSE – Breast Cancer Signs, Symptoms & Diagnosis
For more information about BreastCheck screenings and to book, visit: HSE – BreastCheck screening
Remember if you feel or see any change in your breasts or underarms, or you are worried about symptoms, contact your GP right away.