Cancer reveals its presence in a number of different ways, often depending on type and location of the cancer. There are, however, seven general warning signs: (1) unusual bleeding or discharge from any part of your body; (2) a lump or change in the appearance or feel of skin or underlying tissue anywhere in your body but especially in the breasts; (3) any sore that won’t heal; (4) any persistent change in the pattern of urinating or moving your bowels, or any difficulty you may encounter in doing either; (5) any persistent change in the way your voice sounds (for example, a shift from normal to hoarse), or any persistent cough; (6) any problems with swallowing or frequent unexplainable bouts of indigestion; and (7) any change in the size, color or other features of a mole. In addition, progressive weight loss and persistent fatigue, weakness and fever, which can all be due to a wide variety of conditions, may also be early, if nonspecific, signs of cancer.
No one else is in a position to detect these early warning signs – many of which may be very subtle – before you do. So be alert and pay attention to your body. Detection, however, is only first step; the next is to report your findings to your doctor.
Women are most victims of cancer. Be aware of cancer’s warning signs. A women should examine her breasts at least once a month; various routines are recommended, but the important in each of them is that the whole of both breasts. A man should examine his testicles once a month.
The first thing a woman should focus on in a breast examination is their appearance, and this can best be done in front of a mirror. Look for dimples, bumps changes in skin texture or a discharge from the nipples. The visual examination should preferably be done twice, first with the hands on the hips. In the first instance, press your hands against the back of your head. In the second, lean slightly forwards and pull your elbows and shoulders forwards as well. The two positions presents the breasts differently and in such a way that it makes it easier to detect any abnormal change in their shape or line.
After you have examined your breasts visually, you should probe further, using your sense of touch. This is important because you can sometimes feel what you cannot see. Assuming you are examining your left breast first, raise your left arm and run the fingers of your right hand in circles around the breast from inside to outside. As you make bigger circles, press down with your fingers in an effort to detect any kind of lump or thickened area that was not there when you previously examined your breasts. You can make the job easier by doing it in the shower or bath and lubricating the area you are examining with soapsuds. Repeat the process with your right breast. In this examination, don’t over look the area that lies between the breast and the armpit. The next step in the examination involves gently squeezing the nipple of each breast, to ensure that no fluid of any type emerges. Finally, repeat the ‘touch’ examinations while lying flat on your back. When examining the left breast, lift your left arm over your head and place a soft object, such as a pillow, under your left shoulder. Reverse the procedure when examining the right breast. Remember, you menstrual cycle will affect the shape and sensitivity of your breasts. You should become familiar with these normal changes, so that you won’t confuse them with abnormal ones. It’s also a good idea to perform the examination at the same stage of your cycle each month – say, on the first day of each period. If you do detect any abnormal conditions, report them immediately to your doctor.