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ASKTHEEXPERTS; Dr Joanna Longstaffe, clinical director at The Independent General Practice, provides some tips on regular breast examination.

Q: After a friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I have become more aware of checking my own breasts on a regular basis. Can you offer any advice? A: It is good to be aware of the dangers of breast cancer and checking your breasts on a regular basis is a great way to remain vigilant.

Regularly examining your own breasts will allow you to become familiar with how they normally look and feel, this way if there are any changes you will be more aware of them. It is recommended that women perform a self-examination at least once a month.

Although a breast lump is one of the first signs of breast cancer, many women will have lumps in the area, and nine times out of 10 these will be benign. Benign lumps can be caused by breast cell changes, cysts or Fibroadenoma. That being said, any abnormal changes should be checked by a GP as soon as possible. The best time to perform a breast examination is a few days to a week after your period, when breasts are usually less tender or swollen. It is important to use your eyes as well as your hands when examining your breasts.

By standing in front of a mirror it is easier to assess the appearance of the breasts and detect any obvious visible changes. It is advised that women should raise their arms above their head to clearly inspect the area.

When physically examining your breasts, it is best to use the flat of your hand in a circular motion to feel for any lumps. To be thorough it is best to examine the whole of the area including your collarbone and armpit. Look out for the following when undertaking a breast examination: a lump or thickening in an area of the breast, dimpling of the skin, a change in the shape of your breast or nipple, an inverted nipple, discharge from the nipple area, a rash on the nipple or surrounding area and a lump in your armpit.

Women aged between 50 and 70 are advised to have breast cancer screening every three years.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 21, 2013
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