Cancer — the emperor of maladies — is on a rise, and the causes for the same are multi-factorial. Dr Aruna Muralidhar, senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Bangalore says: “Although breast cancer is thought to be a disease of the developed world, almost 50 per cent of breast cancer cases and 58 per cent of deaths occur in less-developed countries. The age distribution of breast cancer also is changing as younger women, too, are also developing breast cancer.”
She points out that breast cancer is amenable to early detection, since it involves a superficial organ which is not hidden deep in the body. In fact, the very symptoms of the same can be detected by yourself.
What is self-breast examination or SBE?
This is the most important basic level of inspection for detecting breast cancer. “SBE is a convenient, no-cost tool that anyone can use regularly and at any age. A self-breast examination is ideally done by self after your period in front of the mirror” says Dr Muralidhar.
Ideally, one should examine themselves regularly and especially after the period is over, because one is less likely to be bloated or swollen. However, for women who have already gone through menopause, they should set a particular date on the calendar for SBE.
Dr Muralidhar points out the steps to do an SBE:
What happens if you detect a lump?
If a lump is detected, make sure you don’t panic as lumps often mostly occur due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. “The lumpiness and sometimes the soreness, too, is more pronounced in the second half of the cycle due to a hormone called progesterone,” says Dr Muralidhar.
In fact, it is to be noted that lumps in the breast may be non-cancerous like fibroadenoma (also called breast mouse), fibrocystic disease, fibroadenomas, sebaceous cysts or lipomas, explains the gynaecologist.
Do not hesitate in consulting a gynaecologist or a breast specialist/surgeon, if you notice the following