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Do you know?:
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer at stage I, you have a 100% chance of recovery.
In stage II, the chance of recovery is 80%.
And in stage III, it’s 50-70%.
At stage IV, 20%.
Breast cancer is the number one cause of deaths caused by cancer in women in Pakistan.
40, 000 women die every year in Pakistan due to breast cancer.
Almost, 250 women are being registered in various hospitals for breast cancer every day across the country.
This could be you or your loved one.
And even worse, many of the breast cancer cases get complicated due to delayed consultation with doctors or treatment by quacks.
We want to save you and your loved ones. Your life matters. You deserve a life full of passion, joy and health.
Early detection can help you and your family. Since we at Marham are committed to educate, inform and empower people for their health care, let us educate you on how you can conduct regular self-examinations and detect the cancer as soon as possible.
If you detect it in the early stages, you would have a high chance of recovering hence higher chance of spending a good life with yourself and your family.
Let’s explore how to do regular self-examination to early-detect breast cancer.
When you should be breast-aware
This is up to you, there’s no fixed time for this. But the best time is to check your breasts in 2-3 days after your periods end every time.
If you’re a pregnant woman, you still should do a self-examination of your breasts. Though changes in size and texture of breasts are quite normal during pregnancy.
If you don’t have periods anymore (meaning you’re old and menopause), fix a day such as the first day of the month to do your breasts self-examination.
How often you check yourself up
You should check your breasts regularly, once a month is a good routine to keep up.
You shouldn’t check your breasts more than once since the time period would get smaller, and you might not notice any subtle or small changes.
A step-by-step guide to breast self-examination
Step 1: First, you should find a room or a place where you feel comfortable, it should also have good lights.
Step 2: Stand in front of the mirror. Look to see if there is anything unusual on both breasts. Is there any discharge from either of nipples, or puckering, or maybe dimpling or scaling of skin?
Step 3: Now clasp your hands behind your head and press your hand forward. Watch closely in mirror, is there anything unusual under your armpits, breasts?
Step 4: Now, place and press your arms on your hips firmly. Bow slightly toward mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward. Look carefully at your breasts for any dimpling, scaling of skin as your breasts sag in the air.
Step 5: Raise your left arm. Use 3-4 fingers of your right hand (pad of fingers) to explore left breast carefully and thoroughly. It should be done as follows: Begin at the outer edge of the left breast.
Press the flat part of fingers in circles (about the size of an Rs5 coin), move these circles slowly around the breast. Slowly, gradually, move towards the nipple of the left breast. Make sure you move your fingers cover the whole breast. Begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast.
Make sure you check all tissues from front to back of the breast.
Notice if there is anything unusual in the area between the breast and underarm/armpit. Do you feel any unusual lump under the skin?
Step 6: Gently squeeze the nipple/pinch it between thumb and index finger of the left breast, does it discharge anything (watery, milky or yellow fluid, or blood)? If there is discharge, you should consult a gynaecologist. Also, even if you had discharge during the month and not at the time of self-examination you should still see a gynaecologist.
Step 7: Repeat steps 5, and 6 for your right breast as well.
Step 8: Repeat the steps 5, 6 while lying down. Lie flat on your back with your left arm/right arm over your head and a pillow or folded towel under your left/right shoulder (depending upon which breast you are examining. Lying down flattens the breast making them easier to examine.
Use the same circular motion described in step 5, repeat in on both right and left breasts.
While doing self-examination, you should look and feel any of the following things described.
Look out for these physical changes
- Is there any change in size, outline, shape, colour of either breast which is causing flattening of skin.
- Are there any dimpling, creasing, puckering, swelling, redness or pain on skin?
- Has nipple experienced any change in direction, maybe it has started to draw in?
- Is there any discharge from the nipple? Though some women do produce a clear/milky discharge which is normal for their body.
Look out for these feelings
- Do you feel an area of thickening?
- Do you feel a lump (whatever its shape or form might be)? Any lumpy areas?
- Do you feel new or persistent pain/tenderness within the breasts.
If you look or feel any of the things mentioned above, you should consult a gynaecologist immediately.
So, set a reminder on your phone right now or write in your diary and start self-examination.
If you ever feel the unusual change in your breasts, or maybe you’re pregnant/mother of a fetus, and confused which sign is normal and which isn’t. It’s best to talk to a gynecologist who listens to you unconditionally and helps you guide through treatment if needed. Have video consultation or appointment with the gynaecologist.
If you are ever diagnosed with breast cancer.
We’re here to tell.
You would have all the strength, the courage to fight through it. You are much more than you appear to be. You’re brave, and you’ll fight through it, and come stronger, healthier and happier on the other side! Peace.