Sep 22, 2021, Inspiration News

Breast Cancer Self-Checks Save Lives

Did you know the shower is considered the ideal place to check for breast lumps or changes in our breasts? That’s why MERLYN are proud to partner with the Pink Ribbon Foundation to educate our customers about why breast self examination is so important, and to fundraise for this worthy cause.

Why should you check for breast cancer?

If you find breast cancer early, you will have a much better chance at fighting and surviving.

Almost two-thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer today now survive their disease beyond 20 years but early detection and being breast aware is key.

With this in mind, it is quite worrying that Breast Cancer Now reports “Almost half (47%) of women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer.”

According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Breast Cancer Now, one in 10 women have ‘never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes’. Meanwhile, a fifth (19%) of women check their breasts ‘once every six months or less’, while 13% do this ‘once a year or less’.

how to check your breast for cancer lumps

Who should check for breast cancer?

The average risks of breast cancer increase in women aged 50 or over. Getting older increases your chance of getting breast cancer, with most breast cancer cases diagnosed in women over 50.

However, this does not mean that only women over 50 are at risk. Breast cancer screening saves lives, and women of all ages should get familiar with breast self checks.

During a recent conversation with Lisa Allen of the Pink Ribbon Foundation, Lisa reminds us women of all ages are at risk:

“There have been several high-profile cases in the press recently which have highlighted the need to be breast aware, these include the devasting news of the death of Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding, at the young age of 39 years to secondary breast cancer and also the recent breast cancer diagnosis of TV presenter Julia Bradbury. We know that an early diagnosis is so important when it comes to cancer – an early diagnosis means better treatment plans and increases your chances of survival. The majority of cancers are spotted by an individual who notices something that isn’t right and then seeks advice from a GP, who, if worried then makes a referral. During the Covid pandemic people were understandably concerned about visiting GP surgeries and many people put off going to see their doctor with their worries and symptoms.  At the peak of the pandemic, cancer referrals were down by two thirds. Less referrals means more cancer cases not being diagnosed. However, it is important to stress the significance of regular self-checking and the need to seek medical advice if you notice anything that is not normal for you, or which worries you.”

 

How to do a breast exam.

To begin your breast self exam, use your opposite hand to feel your breast – for example, use your left hand to exam your right breast. Keep your fingers straights and together, while using your finger tips to exam the breast with a firm touch.

Many people find it useful to begin at the nipple and move outwards in a circular motion, while others will prefer an up and down motion to examine the breast tissue, and feel for lumps in the breasts.

Once you have finished on the right breast, switch hands and move to the left breast.

Where to check for breast cancer?

While it may seem obvious to check the breasts, many women forget that along with checking all parts of your breasts, that you also need to check both armpits all of the way up to your collarbone.

Breast Cancer Now advise that “checking your breasts only takes a few minutes. Everyone will have their own way of touching and looking for changes, but remember to check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits. There’s no special technique and you don’t need training. “

The most important thing is to establish a routine, and stick to what works for you.

What breast changes should you look out for?

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?

  • Any change in size or shape of the breast
  • A change in skin texture – dimpling or puckering which is not normal for you
  • Any lumps or bumpy area on the breast which cannot be seen, but can be felt beneath the skin
  • Any change in the appearance of the nipple, or direction of the nipple
  • Any discharge or rash from one or both nipples
  • Any pain or swelling in the breast area (including armpit or collarbone)

Check out this handy infographic from the Pink Ribbon Foundation for visual guidance on what breast changes to look out for.

 

When should you check your breasts?

Each woman’s breasts are different. It is possible for you breast to be larger than the other, or to appear visually different from the other breast – if this is normal for you, don’t worry.

During the month, hormonal changes can change how your breast feels – for instance around the time your period starts or just before hand, your breasts may feel tender.

Routine screening is key.

To get around this, it is often recommended that you check your breasts at the same time each month to create a breast check routine. Some women find it useful to “feel on the first” of each month. Others like to check the week before their period.

Asked what stops or prevents them from checking their breasts more regularly, almost half (46%) of women said they ‘forget’. This is concerning when most cases of the disease are detected because women have spotted new or unusual changes to their breasts.

Source: Breast Cancer Now

When you check is not as important as establishing a consistent routine in line with health information, and keeping an eye on what is normal for you.

The NHS suggests that you may find it easiest to do your monthly breast check in the shower or bath, by running a soapy hand over each breast and up under each armpit. You can also look at your breasts in the mirror.

What should you do if you find breast lumps?

Don’t panic – breast changes can happen for lots of reasons with many of these being harmless. Remember lumps are not cancerous in every situation.

Breasts come in various shapes and sizes and your breasts can change with age and vary at different times of the month. Knowing your breasts and what is normal for you is important as it will make it easier to spot any unusual changes.

Knowing about breast cancer signs and symptoms can help you to understand what changes to look for and if you do spot anything unusual, you should get checked out by your doctor.

Lisa Allen of the Pink Ribbon Foundation reminds us that so many cancer charities across the UK are there to support cancer sufferers.

“The Pink Ribbon Foundation continues to be there to support breast cancer charities all over the UK – to give grants that enable these wonderful organisations to continue supporting women (and a smaller percentage of men), affected by this terrible disease.”

“All of us personally, amongst our friends and family know what it is to experience the effects of cancer in our lives and the Pink Ribbon Foundation is committed to funding projects and providing financial support to charities which relieve the needs of people who are suffering from, or who have been affected by breast cancer or who work to advance the understanding of breast cancer, its early detection and treatment.”

For more information on the help available, or to donate, visit the Pink Ribbon website.

About MERLYN and The Pink Ribbon Foundation

MERLYN partner with the Pink Ribbon Foundation to promote the importance of breast self-checking. The shower is considered the ideal place to check for any lumps or changes and we hope by supporting the Pink Ribbon Foundation, we can encourage more women to normalise their breast check routine, and make it part of their daily and weekly shower rituals!

MERLYN Moves

MERLYN employees took to the road to walk, run and cycle in aid of Pink Ribbon Foundation. For every kilometer covered, MERLYN donated to this amazing cause, raising a total of €4,500.

To raise awareness about self check, MERLYN are also donating £25 from the sale of every Arysto X shower enclosure to The Pink Ribbon Foundation.

Find your nearest  Arysto X showroom here.