When it comes to breast cancer, it is important to be proactive about feeling for lumps, tenderness, or any irregularities on the breasts. Rather than doing it yourself, though, you may as well get your partner to examine breasts, since he/she is already familiar with them anyway. You can also return the favor, since breast cancer can occur in both men and women.
About 240,000 women and 2,000 men are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year. About 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of her life. Aside from lung cancer, breast cancer death rates are higher than any other cancer for women in America. If diagnosed and treated early, the five-year survival rate is 99%.
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
- Began menstrual period before age 12, and menopause after age 55
- Family history of breast, colorectal, or ovarian cancer
- Personal history of ovarian cancer
- Smokes or uses tobacco products
- Takes or has taken birth control pills
- Not physically active
Symptoms To Look For
- A lump, firm knot, or thickening in the breast
- A change in size or shape of breast(s)
- Lump under the arm
- Nipple pain, tenderness or discharge, including bleeding
- A nipple turning inward or inverted
- Change in texture or skin color
- Breast that feels swollen or warm
- Itchiness, soreness, or rash on the nipple
It’s time for the exam. Ask your partner if you can perform the exam. Make sure you ask this otherwise he/she might think that you got lazy or methodical with foreplay. The first thing to know is that the exam should be done just after a woman’s period has ended. This will ensure most accurate results, as breasts will not be tender or swollen.
Have your partner lay topless on a comfortable surface like a bed or sofa. Make sure the area is well lit and have him/her put one arm behind the head. You can prop this shoulder up with a thin pillow.
Take your three middle fingers and apply slight pressure to the breast on the same side as the raised arm. Using the pads of your fingers, not the tips, gently use enough pressure to feel for lumps, knots, or thickening.
Use a pattern of your choice. Go up and down vertically as if your drawing invisible lines, or start on the outside of the breast and spiral in until you hit the nipple. Keep this pattern constant when you do the exam, and don’t forget to feel underneath the armpit. Additionally, check to see if there is a difference in skin texture or tone, or any discharge from the nipples.
Have your partner raise the other arm and repeat the exam on the other breast.
When you finish examining your partner’s breasts, have him/her stand up and start the exam from the beginning because breasts feel different when a person stands upright. Be mindful of the various symptoms to look for and make sure you examine the breasts the same as you did when your partner was lying down.
Doctors advise a self-examination for breast cancer once a month after a woman’s period has ended, so you can continue to do this to your partner once a month. Being proactive about performing breast exams is a great way to catch breast cancer in the early stages, in the event that it occurs.