Health tip for the Ladies

By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer

Breast cancer is common, but early detection is uncommon that could save lives. Self- examination of the breasts should be a routine at least once a month.

The best time would be one week after the periods when the breasts are softer. Whilst having a bath or shower applying soap on your body would be the best time mindfully to feel for lumps in your breasts. There are steps to know how you should examine the breasts with various positions of your arms. Your doctor will demonstrate them.

If you notice any breast changes you should visit your family doctor right away to get checked without panicking.

Most breast lumps are innocent. They have a smooth surface and edge and can be moved when you push against them.

Some ladies have lumpy breasts, that would be a normal change and not cancerous.  We call it fibrocystic changes in the breast and common on both. The changes are maximal before your periods. Sometimes you do get a clear nipple discharge.

Sometimes you can feel just a cyst. They are fluid –filled sacs and could be tender. Your specialist will aspirate them and send for examination. In most situations they are innocent.

There are painless moving innocent tumours called fibro-adenomas. Ladies between 20 and 30 gets those most often. They are nick-named ‘breast mouse’ because they move freely.

Ladies- you must look for change in the size, shape or contour of your breasts, or a change in the feel of the skin or the nipple- dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed.

Remember, cancer is painless initially and there are no symptoms other than noticing one on palpation.

Your doctor will do a mammogram or ultrasound to see if the lump felt is solid or filled with fluid and decide whether you need further care.

Early detection of cancer the cure rate is high- so don’t wait- see your doctor if you feel suspicious.

If every woman checks for lumps in their respective breasts, as suggested above most religiously no woman will die of cancer. Isn’t that thinking reasonable?

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