How to Check Yourself for Skin and Breast Cancer – And Why You Need To

By: Farah Aly

Sadly, cancer is one of the leading causes of death nowadays; according to the WHO, there was an estimated 9.6 million death in 2018. For those who don’t know how it starts – here is a mini (and very simplified) biology lesson for you: a change/mutation in one cell or multiple cells triggers uncontrolled cell division, these cells multiply repeatedly making a ball of useless cells known as tumor that feeds on nutrients and then grows making it harder for neighboring cells to function well or survive. Numerous factors affect the development of cancer including being subjected to carcinogens, radioactive emissions or if there’s any family history.

The easiest way to know if there’s any family history would just be asking your parents and don’t settle for the “I can’t remember’’. Once you know though, you get to decide what the next step is. You could either ignore it neglecting the fact that you may be a carrier of a faulty gene OR you could start checking yourself regularly to be safe. As we all know those tumors could hit any part of the body, so visiting a doctor won’t be such a bad idea as early detection could save your life. If you don’t want to make a big deal out of it though then self-check-ups at home are your go-to. Most common self-check-ups are done for both skin cancer and breast cancer and they’re quite easy.

For starters, breast cancer has a slight chance to hit you in your twenties and the chance increases after childbirth. To stay safe though, have a self-check-up monthly during ovulation whether or not you have a family history because being a woman and growing up is what makes you susceptible to breast cancer.

This can be done as you shower, preferably with warm water: rub your fingers against your breasts as you hang your other hand above your head applying varying pressures on your breasts, you’re looking for any signs of lumps/bulging, redness, a rash or dimpling. Overall, this exercise is supposed to make you familiar with your breasts so you can detect any changes in the future. It’s about knowing what’s normal for you. If any of these are detected, or if you notice any sudden changes it’s advisable to visit a doctor or even ask a family member that knows about previously affected family members, to know the next step.

Another easy self-check-up is for skin cancer, where you simply search your skin thoroughly for any of the following symptoms:

1. A spot or sore: yes they are common but if they don’t heal within four weeks, get it checked, especially if it’s itchy or if it bleeds now and then.

2. Ulcers: It’s an area of the skin that has broken down and also doesn’t heal within 4 weeks and there’s no particular reason for that change.

3. A lump: It might be small, slow-growing, shiny and pink or red.

4. Red patches: Their presence on your skin and them causing you a rash may need to be checked up too.

There are however many types of cancers that can be genetically inherited and to check if you’re a carrier genetic screening can be done by a doctor can walk you through your results which could help in early detection of any type of cancer. As people say it’s better to be safe than sorry!

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