Embrace the beauty, curves, feel and size of your breasts. They are your own, and no one else’s.
Everyone’s breasts look and feel different. You may have lumpy breasts, large breasts, small breasts one small and one big breast, saggy breasts, perky breasts, large nipples, inverted nipples, stretch marks or birth marks. Love your breasts.
Become familiar with the look and feel of your breasts. Make a routine of touching and feeling your breasts on a regular basis. This can be done in the shower when you are using soap, in private when you are applying lotions, or when you are getting dressed, just decide what works for you, and bring it into your routine.
There is no right way or wrong way to check your breasts for changes, just do it regularly and be aware of any changes.
Remember to check all parts of your breast, as well as your armpits and all the way up to your collarbone.
For a thorough screening, follow the below steps. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, or concerning, contact your GP clinic for an appointment straight away.
Stand in front of the mirror, shoulders back and arms by your side, and visually look at your breasts – are they the usual size, shape and colour? Are they evenly shaped, without swelling or distortion?
Standing in front of the mirror, place your hands on your hips and push against your hips (causing your chest muscles to flex) – any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin? Has your nipple moved or become introverted (pushed inward instead of sticking out)?
Standing in front of the mirror, raise your arms straight up above your head – any redness, soreness, swelling or rashes?
With one arm up in the air, use the pads of all four fingers (on the other hand) to trace small circular motions (about the size of a 50c piece). Repeat these circles starting from the outside of your breast, coming to the inside of your breast. Cover the entire area, from under the arm, up to the collarbone, and around to the centre of your chest. Start light, move to medium depth, then go to a deep depth. Become familiar with what is normal for you and recognise any changes.
Repeat this motion in both the standing (maybe in the shower), and in the laying positions (before sleep or before getting out of bed).
Repeat the look and feel steps monthly, recognising what is normal, and noticing what is different. If you are still menstruating on a regular basis we recommend completing the examination the day after your bleed stops when your breasts are least likely to be swollen or tender. Try to use this day as a marker of your next examination being due. If you are no longer cycling, try using the calendar to remind you when you are next due for your self-examination.
As per the Cancer Council Australia, mammograms are recommended every 2 years for those over 40 years old. It is particularly important for those aged between 50-74 years to be consistent with their mammograms. Have a look at www.cancerscreening.gov.au for information about how to take advantage of the free breast screening available within Australia (no referral needed).
Written by Samantha Mainland