8 Tips On How To Detect Breast Cancer Yourself

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The breast is the most common site of cancer afflicting women.

To better understand this problem, let us first define what cancer is and what makes it very dangerous. Breast cancer is a malignant tumor or very harmful growth of cells within the breast. These rapidly dividing and wildly grow­ing cells destroy the breast tissues and spread not only by direct extension but also through the blood stream and lym­phatics to other parts of the body.
As it is with almost all cancers, the final outcome of the patient's survival will depend on early detection and correct diagnosis and the giving of proper treatment prompt­ly. It is unfortunate that in the Philippines, a high per­centage of women with cancer of the breast do not report to their physicians until it is too late and this largely ac­counts for the poor survival rate.

The following techniques for self-examination of the breast are as follows:

1. While before a mirror, your arms at your side and posture erect, you should carefully note symmetry in size and shape of both breasts especially noting any puckering or dimpling of the skin or retraction of the nipple.

2. With your arms raised overhead while still standing in front of the mirror, you should look for the same signs as mentioned above. In addition, you should watch for any evidence of fixation of the breast tissue to the chest wall as you move your arms and shoulders. You should check if one breast has recently become more pendulous or enlarged than the other.

3. Lie down in your bed, put a pillow or a bath towel under your left shoulder, and your left hand under your head. With the fingers of your right hand held together flat, press gently but firmly with small circular motions to feel the inner, upper quarter of your left breast, starting at your breastbone and going toward the nipple line. Also gently press the area around the nipple.

4. With the same gentle pressure, feel the lower, inner part of your breast. Incidentally, in this area you will feel a ridge of firm tissue or flesh. Don't be alarmed. This is normal.

5. Now bring your left arm down to your side, and still using the flat part of your fingers, feel under your armpit.

6. Use the same gentle pressure to feel the upper, outer quarter of your breast from the nipple line to where your arm rests.

7. Finally, feel the lower outer section of your breast, going from the outer part to the nipple.

8. Now put a pillow or folded bath towel under your right shoulder, with the right hand under the head. With the fingers of the left hand, gently feel the right breast. Repeat the entire procedure, as described, on the right breast.

The warning signs of breast cancer are:

1) Any lump in the breast;

2) Deformity or alteration in the usual breast shape;

3) Lifting of the breast or nipple;

4) Retraction, or sinking, of the nipple;

5) Dimpling, or puckering of the skin of the breast;

6) A rash around the nipple;

7) Bleeding or discharge from the nipple;

8) A swollen node or "gland" in the armpit; and

9) A running sore on the skin of the breast.

The points mentioned above may not necessarily mean the presence of cancer, but women and men who notice any of these signals should consult their physician as a precaution.

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