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How can you detect Breast Cancer at home?

The news of Hina Khan's breast cancer diagnosis sent a ripple of shock and concern through the hearts of millions. We need to be aware of who is at risk, how can we detect breast cancer at home and the role screening plays in diagnosis. Let's find out!

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Johanitha Moraes
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Photo taken from Hina Khan’s official Instagram account

In light of the recent news about actor Hina Khan's breast cancer diagnosis, a crucial conversation about breast cancer awareness has emerged. The news of Hina Khan's breast cancer diagnosis sent a ripple of shock and concern through the hearts of millions.

Cancer, a word that can strike fear into the most courageous soul, doesn't discriminate. But here's the truth we need to hold onto: it doesn't have to win.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, but early detection is key to successful treatment. Let’s shed light on breast cancer, its risk factors, and how self-examination can be a powerful tool in early detection. 

While breast cancer is a significant concern, there's positive news. Thanks to advancements in screening and treatment, mortality rates have been steadily declining. Early detection is crucial for this progress to continue.

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Photo taken from Hina Khan’s official Instagram account

Who's Prone to Breast Cancer?

While anyone can develop breast cancer, certain factors increase the risk. It's like a hand reaching out from the shadows, and knowledge is our shield. By understanding these factors, we can be better prepared.

  1. Age: Risk increases with age, particularly after 50. It’s a long-standing myth that breast cancer only affects older women.But as we have witnessed, both the young and the old have been equally tormented by this malignancy. After all, the saying “age is just a number” has been taken too seriously by this disease. Its eyes are all everyone.
  2. Family History: Having a close relative with breast cancer raises your risk. If you are aware of this diagnosis in your family, you should prioritise screening and detection more.
  3. Genetics: Specific gene mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2 significantly increase risk. Multiple screening tests are available today with increasing technology that detects any mutations you might have in these two genes.
  4. Dense Breast Tissue: Dense breast tissue can make mammograms less effective, but other screening options are available.
  5. Hormonal Factors: Early menstruation, late menopause, and hormone replacement therapy can influence risk. When you start playing with your hormones, it knows how to give it back as well.
  6. Lifestyle: Obesity, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to risk. No amount of normalisation in today's society can turn the tables for these risk factors. 

How can you check for Breast Cancer at home? 

Early detection is vital! Here's a guide for regular self-examination:

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  1. Timing: Choose a time during your menstrual cycle when your breasts are least tender (usually a week after your period ends).
  2. Visual Inspection: Stand in front of a mirror with arms raised overhead. Look for any changes in breast size, shape, or skin changes.
  3. Palpation: Lie down and place your right hand behind your head. Using the fingertips of your left hand, feel your entire right breast in a circular motion, checking for lumps or thickening. Repeat on the left breast. Do not squeeze your breasts as you won't be able to appreciate any lumps in that method. Instead, use the pulp of your fingers and gently palpate against your chest wall. 
  4. Nipple Changes: Look for any retraction (inward displacement of the nipple), discharge, or scaling of the nipples.
  5. Lymph Nodes: Feel for any lumps or swelling in the armpits or above your collar bones. 
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Photo taken from Canva Stock Images

Remember,

  • A lump doesn't always mean cancer. It could just be a non-malignant, benign growth or a tumour. However, any visible change that you appreciate on examination should always be confirmed by a healthcare professional.
  • Self-examination is not a substitute for professional screening. Regular mammograms and doctor consultations are crucial as not all breast cancers can be detected at home. 

Early Detection Saves Lives:

The good news is that breast cancer has a high cure rate when detected early. Here are two crucial steps you can take to be proactive about your breast health:

  1. Monthly Self-Exams: The National Cancer Institute has a great guide on how to perform a breast self-exam. Familiarize yourself with the normal texture and feel of your breasts so you can identify any changes. The ideal time for monthly self-examination is as follows:

    For menstruating women, it should be done on the first Sunday after your periods. For non-menstruating or postmenopausal women, it should be done on the first Sunday of every month. 

  2. Regular Screenings: Schedule annual mammograms or ultrasounds with your doctor. These screenings can detect cancer even before you notice any symptoms.

Hina Khan's diagnosis serves as a powerful reminder: early detection saves lives. By familiarizing yourself with the risk factors and performing regular self-examinations, you can become an active participant in your breast health. Don't hesitate to consult out Gytree experts for any queries or concerns about your breast health.

Breast cancer risk breast cancer awareness Breast examination Hina Khan breast cancer
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