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A Beginner’s Guide to Checking Your Breasts

by Naomi Chadderton

Regularly checking your breasts for lumps could be a lifesaver. We speak to one of the most reputable cancer doctors in Dubai on how to get started.

In today’s hectic world, it’s no surprise that checking our breasts can often slip to the bottom of our to-do lists. However not to alarm you – it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health. Breast cancer is the most common death among women in the world, and the leading cause among females in the UAE. It’s pretty clear then that a regular check is crucial in identifying and diagnosing the condition early and ensuring a good chance of recovery.

“Lumps in the breast can develop due to various reasons,” explains Dr Pranay Taori, specialist medical oncologist at Aster Hospital and one of the most repute cancer doctors in Dubai. “In most cases these lumps could be harmless, like a non-cancerous tissue growth called fibroadenoma, or it could be due to the build-up of fluid. In some cases, however, it could be a sign of breast cancer and, as we all know, the earlier we diagnose, the more chances of survival.”

How regularly should I be checking my breasts?

Most experts recommend you manually check your breasts once a month.

“Apart from self-breast examination of the breasts, it’s important that women undergo a mammogram screening once every two years from the age of 40,” adds Dr Taori. “However, if you have a family history of breast cancer, then you are at high risk. In that case, you should be undergoing a mammogram screening early after discussing with your doctor.”

How do I check my breasts for lumps?

It only takes a few minutes to self-examine your breasts, so you really have no excuse.

  • Start by looking for changes in the shape of the breast, swelling, or colour changes around the nipples. You can look for these changes by looking in a mirror with your arms down by your sides and then raised high overhead.

  • Next, using your three fingers (not your thumb or little finger), press on every part of the breasts. You should be checking for lumps, thick spots or other changes. You should also press on the nipples to see there is any discharge.

  • You may also examine your breasts using your hands while lying down. Follow the same steps lying down on a bed and check for lumps and thickening spots in the breasts.

What symptoms should be I be looking for?

There are a number of important symptoms to look out for when checking your breasts, but the most common include:

  • Changes in the look, feel, or size of the breast.

  • Changes in the look and feel of the nipple or discharge when pressed.

  • Lumps, or thickening spots in the breasts.

  • Pain in one particular spot.

  • Rashes on the nipple or see if the nipple is pulling inward.

  • Swelling of one or both breasts.

What should I do if I notice any abnormalities?

Firstly don’t panic! Chances are it’s nothing serious but, to be on the safe side (no matter how big or small the changes), make an appointment with your doctor who may order a few tests to rule anything out.


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