Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place every year in October. You might have already seen our #BubuBoobs campaign on our socials, where we have been encouraging our followers to keep their boobs in check.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and can affect up to one in eight of us during our lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to regularly check your boobs for any suspicious lumps or irregular textures.
Surprisingly, it’s been found that only half of young women are confident to check their boobs. If you’re not sure how to check, here is a quick guide:
Our boobs naturally feel a little uneven or lumpy, and it’s usually nothing to worry about. The most important thing to do is to get into a pattern of checking yourself regularly - that way, you’ll be able to know exactly how your boobs usually feel and be able to recognise if something suddenly doesn’t feel right.
Lumps aren’t always visible to the naked eye, as they can occur deep within your breast tissue. That’s why it’s so important to have a good feel on a regular basis.
Fibrocystic Breast Disease
There is a condition called fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) which causes breasts to feel uneven or lumpy. FBD is a benign condition, which means it’s non-cancerous. More than half of women will develop FBD at some point in their lives, and fortunately, it’s completely harmless—but it’s always best to get things checked by your doctor.
After having a feel, get in the habit of taking a look in the mirror. Changes in skin texture can also be a telltale sign. Look out for dimpling or puckering of the skin (if you’re not quite sure, this can sometimes look like the uneven texture of an orange peel).
Your upper chest and armpits also contain breast tissue, so make sure look for any unusual swelling in these areas.
Keep an eye out for any sudden size changes to your breasts. Remember that our breast sizes can regularly fluctuate as a result of our monthly periods or contraceptive pill, but it’s always best to be cautious and take note of any prolonged changes.
Skin irritation around the breasts can occur if you’re currently breastfeeding or experience sensitive skin. If this isn’t the case, and you’ve noticed an uncomfortable rash or scaling around your nipples, it’s important you get yourself checked out by your GP.
Notice any aches and pains
Be aware of any constant and prolonged aches or pains in your breasts, or even your armpits. Breast pain isn’t always a sign of cancer, and it can be completely normal. Contraceptive options, as well as your menstrual cycle, are major culprits of breast tenderness and soreness.
It can also happen if you wear a poorly-fitted bra, especially if you’ve been walking or running a lot—but it’s important to be aware of any pains that are unusual or last longer than they should.
You can find more information on checking yourself from charities such as CoppaFeel!, who aim to raise awareness of breast cancer among young people.
I have implants—how can I check?
Having breast implants can actually make checking yourself a lot easier since they sit behind your breast tissue, pushing it closer to your skin. If you have recently had your implants, ask your surgeon or nurse to point out any scar tissue or edges of the implant, as these can feel a bit irregular at first. You don't need to do anything different to check your boobs; the steps above still apply.
I’m concerned - what should I do?
Only ⅓ of women would immediately book an appointment with their doctor if they discovered an early symptom of breast cancer—and this needs to change. If you happen to find something that you don’t think is quite right, then make sure to visit your GP as soon as you can.
It is really important that you don’t panic if you do find something unusual, there can also be some harmless explanations of breast lumps such as fibrocystic breast disease, but anything unusual needs to be investigated thoroughly by a medical professional. Early detection is one of the reasons for survival rates increasing…
Try not to google your symptoms as this can only lead to more worry and panic. Lots of charities have set up free helplines to answer any worries you have; such as Breast Cancer Care and. Their breast care nurses can talk you through signs and symptoms, as well as any other concerns you have, completely confidentially.
When booking an appointment with your GP, you can specifically ask for a female nurse to do the check-up. You can also take a parent or friend with you if you’re feeling nervous.
We urge our Bubu Babes to get into the habit of regularly checking their boobs, and not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.