TOUCH, LOOK, CHECK

 

Isn’t it time you take your breasts into your own hands?
Go ahead, cop a feel. It’s as easy as T.L.C.

TOUCH your breasts. Feel anything unusual?
LOOK for changes. Be aware of their shape or texture.
CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.

Nobody can show your breasts T.L.C. like you can. Do it in the shower, in front of the mirror, in bed, standing up, lying down, whatever works for you. And don’t worry about doing it right. However you do it is right. Just be sure to do it regularly and check the whole breast area, including your upper chest and armpits.

Finding something unusual is reason enough to check in with your doctor, but keep in mind that changes in your breasts are often part of a healthy life cycle. Most lumps, even big or painful ones, are harmless. So be on the lookout, but stay cool.

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SIGNS + SYMPTOMS

The better you know what your breasts look and feel like, the easier it will be to notice unusual changes and have them checked out by your doctor. Here are some breast changes to look out for:

  • Lump. A lump or hard knot in the breast or armpit
  • Lumpy area. Bumpiness or unusual thickening that doesn’t go away after your period
  • Pain. Pain in one spot that’s not associated with your period
  • Swelling. Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
  • Size and shape. One breast might become larger or lower than the other
  • Skin texture. Puckering or dimpling of the skin
  • Appearance or direction of nipple. One nipple might become inverted (turned in)
  • Discharge. Nipple excretes a blood-stained liquid (in one or both breasts)
  • Rash or crusting. An itchy sore or scaling area on or around the nipple

 

If you experience any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. We know that young women’s breast concerns aren’t always taken as seriously as they should be by their medical team – if you are worried about your breast health, trust your gut, speak up and demand the appropriate referrals you need in order to get a definitive answer. Always remember that you are your own best advocate… so don’t be afraid to raise your voice! We’re all about making some noise.

Found A Lump? Go see your doc!

The first thing to do when you feel a lump or notice an unusual change in your breast is see your doctor for an examination. You might find out it’s nothing – more often than not it’s harmless. But if your doctor can’t rule out breast cancer through a clinical breast exam, she will refer you to a breast cancer clinic for an assessment, which includes a physical exam, breast imaging (ultrasound and/or mammogram) and a biopsy if necessary.

GET ASSESSED

Your assessment can involve any or all of the following diagnostic tools, depending on your age and physical characteristics.

Ultrasound If you’re under 35, you’ll probably be scanned using ultrasound, which takes a picture of your breasts using sound waves. This method provides better images of younger breasts, which tend to be denser. It is also particularly useful for telling the difference between a solid lump and a cyst and for predicting the size of a tumour.

Mammogram This is an X-ray of your breast tissue, so it involves some radiation. Each breast will be X-rayed at least once. It can feel a bit awkward, but it’s an effective tool for detecting breast cancer in its early stages.

Biopsy This is usually the only way to tell for certain if a lump in your breast is benign or cancerous. With a biopsy, a sample of your breast tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. The standard method is core biopsy, where a small amount of tissue is removed with a needle. This is done under local anesthetic. Also common is fine needle aspiration (FNA), the easiest and quickest biopsy technique. A sample of cells is taken from the lump using a fine needle and syringe. This is an outpatient procedure that takes about 10 minutes. Other methods include excision biopsy and wire-assisted biopsy. Your doctor will recommend the most suitable type for you.

It takes a team! The investigations and any subsequent treatment for breast cancer will involve a team of health care specialists, usually consisting of a breast surgeon, a breast care nurse, a radiologist, an oncologist (a cancer specialist), and a pathologist or cytologist (someone who specializes in diagnosing diseases by studying tissues and cells).

Your personal support is as important as your professional care, so make sure to include a friend or family member in the process.

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