Do You Really Know Your Breasts? Five Easy Ways To Check They're Healthy.

14/04/2016 1:17 PM AEST | Updated 18/07/2016 12:01 PM AEST
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The torso of a nude Caucasian Woman giving herself a breast exam

While it's a sad fact that most of us know someone who has been affected by cancer, the truth remains that research and early detection can be our best chance at survival.

More than 15,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia in 2015, but every woman can help increase her own chances of survival with a quick and easy check once a month.

Like flossing it should be something we all know how to do, but chances are we don't.

Follow this simple, step-by-step guide to a breast check and help make breast cancer deaths a thing of the past.

1. Know Your Breasts

bras

Breast tissue can be lumpy, bumpy and changeable, depending on what time of the month it is. So, doing regular checks enables you to know what your breasts usually feel like. A quick feel once a year isn't going to cut it, so put a regular reminder in your diary to check your breasts on the same day every month and/or at the same time in your cycle. That way you're most likely to notice if something doesn't feel or look usual.

2. Get Comfortable

engaged locked door

While in the shower, laying down or in front of a mirror are all great places to check your breasts for unusual lumps or changes, perhaps the most important thing is to make sure you're comfortable and that you aren't feeling rushed. Deciding to check your breasts while getting ready for a night out, or in the gym shower might not be the best idea. After all, while being comfortable with your body is great, not many of us would relish the idea of someone walking in and interrupting a self-exam.

3. Use Your Hands

check breasts

While it might feel a bit odd the first few times, think of it like touching any other part of your body. Your breasts need - and deserve - your attention, so roll up your sleeves and get to grips with them. In terms of what you're looking for, it's a bit like, how long is a piece of string. A lump can vary in style, size and shape - it might be harder than another area, mobile or not, ill-defined etc. The rule is if you notice a change, get it checked by your doctor. While many women do and it ends up not being breast cancer, why take the chance?

4. Use Your Eyes

breast changes

Honestly - when was the last time you took a long, hard look at your boobs? Could you pick your nipples out of a line-up? Maybe not. So, as well as feeling around for anything out of the ordinary, take a look. Knowing the shape and size of your breasts and nipples on any given day is only going to help you identify any changes, such as puckering, crusting, inversion or redness around the nipple, discharge from the nipple or any obvious shape change, redness or dimpling, in the breast itself. An unusual pain that doesn't go away can also be a sign.

Watch this video for more guidance:

5. Use Your Head - And Your Heart!

OK, so we know it's not the most fun you're going to have with your top off, but like brushing your teeth and washing your hair, breast checks should be a regular and essential part of your overall health regime. Yes, you're busy. Yes, it's a bit weird at first, but a few minutes every month could end up saving your life so we don't need to tell you how worth your time it truly is. It's time to be part of the survivorship of breast cancer and end breast cancer deaths. Do it for every woman you know and don't know, and every man you know who has a woman in his life. But most of all - do it for you.

Lean Cuisine is donating $100,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to fund life-changing breast cancer research. Buy any Steam product to show your support. Visit nbcf.org.au for more information.

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