Get to Know Your Breasts
- Written by Lana Henry, RMT
For some of us a self breast exam can be daunting and being responsible for palpating changes in our breast can be a fearful undertaking. Breast cancer is a prevalent disease in women and early detection is our best chance at treatment.
Cancer thrives in tissue that is low in oxygen. Breast tissue is vascular and has a good blood supply, however, this doesnʼt mean it has good circulation. The cardiovascular system is responsible for the distribution of oxygen and nutrients and the removal of carbon dioxide and metabolic wastes. Cellular regeneration and tissue health relies on this system.
Another important contributer to circulation is our lymphatic system. It is responsible for filtering out any unwanted debris and toxins in our blood system. Active lymphatic circulation protects our breasts. If there were cancer cells, chemical toxins, or infectious organisms present, a healthy lymphatic system would work hard to remove them. The circulation and efficiency of the lymphatic system is dependent upon exercise, deep breathing and freedom from constrictive clothing.
With self massage, breast exploration and examination we are not only feeling for change in our breast tissue we are encouraging good blood and lymphatic circulation thereby providing a means of prevention and encouraging healthy breast tissue.
Here are a few helpful tips that might make this task easier.
A monthly breast self-exam is usually best performed a few days after your period or at the same time each month if your periods have stopped.
Be aware of your breathing as you explore your breast tissue. Deep breathing calms the nervous system and helps to encourage efficient lymphatic circulation.
Explore your breast tissue with a flat hand using light touch over the surface of your skin and then a deeper, gentle touch land marking the ribs below.
Become familiar with your anatomy. Palpate your breast bone (sternum), collar bone (clavicle) and armpit (axilla).
Cystic breasts commonly affect up to 50% of pre-menopausal women between the ages of 20 & 50 years. It is important to be familiar with our breasts so that we know our "normal" and can note any changes month to month.
Use a diagram to map out the topography of your breast and make notations about size of lumps, location, texture, shape, mobility and tenderness. This will create a comparative study and your can monitor changes more closely month to month.
80% of breast lumps are benign. Lumps that are non-tender, irregular, hard & are fixed (don not move) are most likely breast cancer. Consult your physician immediately.
By understanding the anatomy and physiology of our breasts through breast exploration and self examination we can become familiar with them. We are then able to recognize the symptoms of various breast ailments and disease, including cancer. Take the time to learn more about your breasts, get to know your breast tissue.
Reference: The complete natural medicine guide to breast cancer, A practical manual for understanding, prevention & care; sat dharam kaur, ND; robert rose 2003