After the initial flurry of enthusiasm for New Year’s resolutions it’s easy to abandon good intentions but I want to urge women across Scotland to make one simple, potentially life-saving change to their routine – to check their breasts.
Shockingly, almost half of all women in Scotland (44 per cent) are still not regularly checking for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer – mostly because they simply forget.
Checking your breasts regularly could save your life. The earlier you find breast cancer the greater the likelihood of a better outcome.
This year, around 4,600 women in Scotland will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer and almost 1,000 will lose their lives to the disease. Being aware of what is normal for you, and spotting any unusual changes to your breasts, could save your life.
Everyone’s breasts are different, and they can change with age and at different times of the month. It’s important to get to know how your breasts normally look and feel so it will be easier to spot if there are any unusual changes. Most changes are nothing to worry about but if you do spot any anything that looks or feels different you should get it checked out by your doctor.
We have a very effective breast screening programme in Scotland but even if you’ve recently had a mammogram, it is still vital that you check your breasts and take action if you spot anything out of the ordinary.
So what should you look out for? Lumps are something to be wary of and can be one of the first signs or symptoms of breast cancer but most of them are benign (not cancerous).
There are other important signs and symptoms too. Changes to skin texture, the appearance or direction of the nipple, a rash or crusting and nipple discharge can all be signs of breast cancer.
There’s no special technique to checking – it’s all about getting to know how your breasts look and feel by checking regularly. After all, nobody knows your body like you do.
It’s as simple as TLC; TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual? LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture? CHECK anything unusual with your doctor.
We know that most people want to be more breast aware but the biggest challenge for many people remains how to get into a habit of checking regularly. We want to help tackle this so Breast Cancer Now has created the Breast Check Now app to help women set a checking plan that fits with their lifestyle. Checking your breasts should be something that’s simple, easy and fits with your life, so we’ve designed the app to help women identify how often they want to check and to set reminders that work for them. The most important thing is to encourage people to keep checking regularly. The app also lets women keep a record of their checks so that they can refer back and see if anything’s changed.
The app, which is available for free for both Apple and Android devices, will also provide information on what to look for, giving women the confidence to know what is normal for their body. The most important point in all of this is that it doesn’t matter when you check your breasts, as long as you check them regularly. In fact, by downloading our free Breast Check Now app you don’t have to worry about remembering. So what are you waiting for? You can download the free Breast Check Now app by searching “Breast Check Now” in Google Play or the App Store.
Mary Allison is Breast Cancer Now’s Director for Scotland. To find out more visit www.breastcancernow.org/get-involved/breast-check-now