When was the last time you performed a breast self-examination?
According to a survey by the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF), 90% of Singaporeans regard regular breast checks to be important, and consider breast cancer to be dangerous. However, only 45% of women perform breast checks regularly. Though mammograms are still the best way to detect breast cancer, performing a breast self-exam can still make a difference.
Why is breast self-examination important?
Conducting self-exam won’t take much of your effort. Here are two vital reasons why breast self-exam works:
- It’s a good combination with your mammogram. You know yourself best and are most familiar with the changes in your breasts. Reporting any deviation from the normal look and feel of your breasts will help your doctor assess your situation, along with your mammogram.
- It can help detect cancer early. It is an easy, less invasive, and cheap way of checking yourself. It may not be able to replace mammograms but it is another form of early detection. Remember, the earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances are of treating it.
How to perform a breast self-exam
A routine self-exam is not only a form of health check, it’s also a form of self-love. Follow these three simple ways:
1. Check yourself in the mirror. Put your arms by your side and raise them. Familiarise yourself with how your breasts look and check for any noticeable changes—from your nipples to the skin. If you see any dimpling, redness, or change and/or discharge in your nipple even if you’re not breastfeeding, visit your doctor.
2. Lie down. Feel your breast tissue with two fingertip pads. By using small circular motions, press your breasts firmly including your outer armpits, nipples, up to your collarbone and to the bottom of your breasts. If you feel any lump, schedule a consultation with your doctor.
3. While taking a shower, use your finger pads and move them from the outer part of your breasts to the centre, and in your armpit area as well. If you feel any lump, make sure to see your doctor.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
To promote the importance of breast self-examination, BCF is conducting several activities this October (also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month), including a breast self-examination nursery reminder campaign called ‘Molly Monkey Sings and Saves’, which illustrates the patterns of a breast self-examination. Its aim is to break down the steps of a breast self- examination so they can be easily remembered while serving as a unique reminder for women to make it a lifelong habit.
There will also be the Pink Ribbon Walk 2019 on 5 October from 1pm to 8pm. With the theme, “Shared Courage—Stronger Together, We Overcome,” the event will reinforce the message of early detection by offering mammogram screenings. The Wear the Pink Ribbon Campaign will also run to encourage everyone to wear a pin—two ribbons coming together, symbolising the power of love to overcome challenges like breast cancer. If you wish to participate, simply visit any of the more than 300 participating outlets. For the list of participating outlets, visit www.pinkribbonsingapore.org.