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How to check your breasts
It’s important for all women to check their breasts for changes on a regular basis. Being breast aware and knowing what’s normal for you means you’ll be quicker to recognise irregularities and get them checked out, as early treatment is more likely to result in a full recovery.
- Step 1: Start by looking at your breasts in a mirror. As outlined above, you should be looking out for any changes to the breast including lumps, swelling or anything unusual.
- Step 2: Raise your hands over your head and check again for any irregularities.
- Step 3: Check your nipples for any leaking fluid; this could be a watery, milky or yellow fluid or blood.
- Step 4: Lie down and feel your breasts. Use your left hand to feel the right breast and vice versa. Make sure you feel the entire breast, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage.
- Step 5: Examine your breasts again, but this time stand up or sit down. Some women find it easiest to check their breasts in the shower; find out what works best for you.
Free mammograms are provided through BreastCheck, a service funded by the Irish government. Women who fit the criteria are entitled to a mammogram every two years; it has been proven that finding and treating the disease at an early stage reduces the number of deaths caused by breast cancer. Women are encouraged to contact BreastCheck on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or go to www.breastcheck.ie.
Surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy can be used to treat breast cancer, either alone or in combination. Your doctor will decide on the most appropriate treatment based on the type of breast cancer it is, the size of the tumour and whether it has spread or not. Treatment also depends on your health, whether you’ve gone through the menopause yet and the stage your cancer is at.