No matter where you live or who you are, breast cancer could affect your life.
– Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN
For nearly 4 decades now, October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No matter where you live or who you are, breast cancer could affect your life.
Understanding what’s normal for you and recognizing the warning signs of breast cancer are the best things you can know about and look for each month by doing your monthly self-breast exams.
▶️ 4 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer and How to Do a Self-Breast Exam
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️Warning Sign #1: A change in the breast or nipple appearance
Any unexplained change in the shape or size of the breast; especially if it’s only on one side – this includes your breast getting larger or smaller
Asymmetry – it is common for one breast to be larger than the other, so this is more about a recent onset of asymmetry.
Skin of the nipple, areola, or nipple becoming red, swollen, scaly, or developing ridges that looks like an orange peel
✔️Warning Sign #2: Any nipple discharge – particularly clear, bloody, or milky discharge
If you are not breastfeeding, your nipples should not have any discharge; this may not be linked to breast cancer but needs to be checked out by your provider.
✔️Warning Sign #3: Change in how the breast or nipple looks or feels
A change in skin texture or an enlargement of the pores of the skin of the breast (similar to the texture of an orange peel)
Nipple tenderness or a lump or thickening in the under arms or near the breast
A lump in the breast should always be investigated – it may or may not be cancer
✔️Warning Sign #4: Feeling a Lump
Lumps that are concerning for breast cancer are usually harder than a frozen pea, do not move around, and continue to grow in size.
See your healthcare provider right away if you feel any kind of lump in your breast, armpit, or behind or around your nipple
How To Do A Breast Self-Exam
Start at age 18
Try to do the exam at the same time each month
You want to know your breasts so that you know what your breasts normally feel like and can identify anything new
Two steps: Looking and Feeling
Stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side. Look at both of your breasts and see if you see any changes in the shape, size, any dimples or any irregularities on the nipple, areola, or breast itself.
Then raise your hands over your head and look again for those same things
Then put your palms on your hips and gently flex your chest muscles. Look for any dimpling or puckering anywhere on either breast.
You can do this in the shower or lying down
Raise one arm and use the flat part of your other hand’s three middle fingers to make small circular motions all around the breast and armpit area.
Check the entire breast, armpit area and from your collarbone to breastbone with light, medium, and firm pressure.
Do this for both breasts.
Squeeze each nipple to make sure there is no discharge or pain.
What if you have implants or scar tissue from surgery?
If you have implants, you’ll also need to feel around the breast to find the edges of the implant, then press firmly inwards around the edges to check for lumps or abnormalities under or around the implant.
If you have scars from a previous surgery, feel around the scar to see if anything is new or unusual.
Anything new or any changes should be evaluated by your provider, so make an appointment if you question anything or are unsure.
Get your free copy of any of the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Educational Guides to learn more!
#BreastCancerAwarenessMonth #breastCancerAwareness #BreastCancer
Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly, and/or support future episodes of the podcast. Within the first 18 months of launching this podcast, we reached a ranking of top 10% globally. I have all of you who’ve been with me on this journey so far to thank for that!
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