Self-examination of the breast

To minimise the effect of breast cancer it can be important to catch it at an early stage. Since the only visible symptom is usually the lump, it is necessary to be able to do self-examination.

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You cannot actually prevent the development of breast cancer, but you might be able to catch it at a very early stage, if you are checking your breasts consistently. Self-examination is essential in noticing a potential lump. Furthermore, the NHS offers screening for breast cancer which gives a detailed analysis of the breast and has detected as many as 16,500 cases in a year.

Examining your breast

The best way of controlling whether you have a lump or not, is to get to know how your breasts normally feel through self-examination. In the beginning you will need to check you breasts often, to see how they change over the course of time. It is normal for a breast to change structure e.g. right before and during a period. These changes are normal and should not cause any worries. But the important thing is to know your breast well enough to tell the regular changes from a potential cancerous lump. Over the course of time you will only need to check your breasts once a month, but you can do it more often if it makes you feel more comfortable.

The NHS offers a breast screening programme for all women between 50-70 years of age, which is the most common age-gap to get breast cancer in. In England they are extending to a wider target between 47-73. Just in the financial year of 2009/10 this programme found roughly 16,500 cases of breast cancer and every woman over the age of 50 and registered with a GP will get an invitation to attend the programme.

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