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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month marked in countries across the world every October, helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment of this disease.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the world, with one woman being diagnosed every 10 minutes and it is the leading cause of death in women under 50 years of age. A YouGov survey commissioned in October 2020 by the breast cancer charity ‘Breast Cancer Now’ found that almost half (47%) of women in the world do not check their breasts regularly for potential signs of breast cancer with one in 10 women having ‘never checked their breasts for new or unusual changes’. The survey asked women what prevents them from checking their breasts more regularly and almost half (46%) said they ‘forget’.

As many breast cancers are found by women themselves through self-examination or by accident, it is very important to become breast aware and get into the habit of regularly checking your breasts, as the earlier breast cancer is found the better the treatment options are.

Why is it so important to check your breasts regularly?

Self-examination is a simple and entirely safe method of detecting changes in your breasts. It is important to do this regularly to be aware of your ‘normal’ breasts and therefore to detect changes at an early stage. Early detection nearly always leads to less invasive treatments and better outcomes as cancer can be treated sooner.

How to perform a breast self-examination – a step by step guide

Self-examination is an essential part of being breast aware, it takes less than 10 minutes and you do not have to be an expert to perform it. The main purpose of breast self-examination is that you become familiar with what is ‘normal’ for your breasts, so you can spot any differences.

Equipment needed:

  • A mirror

  • Bed/sofa (so you can lie down) or even in the bath – whatever works for you

  • Your hands and eyes!

Handy Hint – when should you perform your self-examination?

The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 10 to 14 days after your period has finished, as your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.

If you are post-menopausal then you should check your breasts at the same time each month, so you don’t forget.

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