HEALTH: Love Your Breasts

Get to grips with your nips

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with more than 100 women diagnosed every day. And we don’t want to scare you, but lesbian women are almost twice as likely to suffer from breast cancer than women generally.

The earlier a woman is diagnosed, the better her chances of survival, so the message is clear: get in touch with your breasts – it could save your life.

HOW TO CHECK YOUR BREASTS

HOW OFTEN?

Feel your breasts regularly and become familiar with normal changes. Just before your period they may become lumpy and tender, for example. Ask your girlfriend for her opinion; she may be more aware of the normal feel of your breasts than you are.

IN THE BATH/SHOWER

Raise your left arm. Using the flat of your hand, examine your left breast in a circular motion. Feel for unusual lumps, hard knots or thickenings. Also check your armpit and collarbone. Repeat on the right side. Squeeze your nipples gently, checking for discharge.

IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR

Place your hands behind your neck and look for any changes in the shape or appearance of your breasts.

LOOK OUT FOR:

* A change in the shape or size of the breast
* The nipple turning in (becoming inverted)
* The nipple changing position/shape
* A swelling or lump in your armpit
* Blood-stained discharge (a very rare symptom)
* A rash on the nipple or surrounding area (very rare)
* Veins that stand out more than usual
* Any unusual pain in your breast

If you think you may have a lump or other symptom, make an immediate appointment with your GP. Tell the receptionist that you have found a lump; most practices will fast-track you.

Remember: nine in 10 breast lumps are benign, but better safe than sorry.

Breast Cancer: The Statistics

* More than one in 12 lesbians/bi women, aged 50-79, have been diagnosed with breast cancer, compared with one in 20 women in general.
* Three in 10 lesbians/ bi women check their breasts for lumps every month
* Drinking as little as one pint of beer or one glass of wine a day increases risk of breast cancer by more than 7%
* Obesity increases risk of post-menopausal breast cancer by up to 30%
* A more active lifestyle reduces breast cancer risk.

~words: Louise Carolin, Kelly Bunyan
~statistics from: Stonewall and Cancer Reasearch UK

I would like to thank DIVA Magazine for giving me permission to add this article to me blog and a special thanks to Eden.

Source: DIVA Magazine, October 2008 issue, page 93
** note: This magazine’s website can be found *here*

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