Boob School 101

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Ellie discusses how to check yourself and myth busting regarding breast cancer.

Guys, gals, non-binary pals: Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us and, as part of the Leeds Uni Boob Team representing the charity CoppaFeel! on campus, I want to encourage everyone to make a boob-checking pledge this October.

Who should check?

In the UK, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women but, despite the stereotype of being a ‘female’ disease, 400 men get diagnosed every year too. Seeing as the key to breast cancer survival is early diagnosis, consciously choosing to give your chest a monthly check could end up being a habit that saves your life, no matter your age or gender. 

Help! How should I check? 

There’s no perfect way to check yourself – so do it whenever or wherever you feel most comfortable. For a lot of us, that’ll be in the bath or shower by running a soapy hand over each boob and up under each armpit. Don’t be afraid to have a good feel – it might be a little nerve-wracking at first, but once you get into a monthly boob-checking routine, you’ll start to feel more confident. Don’t forget, breast tissue reaches underneath your armpit as well as right up to your collarbones- so don’t miss these out when you’re copping a feel. 

What am I looking out for?

All boobs are different and come in naturally different sizes, shapes and with lumps and bumps in different places. This is when checking monthly and getting to know your normal comes in extremely handy. Being aware of what your boobs (and pecs) usually feel and 

look like will make it so much easier to identify when something could be wrong. 

While you’re having a feel, you should be aware of any constant or unusual pain in your breasts or armpits as well as thickening or lumps. In terms of physical appearance, you’re looking out for nipple discharge, changes in skin texture, swelling in your armpits and collarbones, rashes or crusting on your nipple, sudden changes in size or shape and a change in nipple direction. 

It’s also definitely worth keeping in mind that, if you have periods, hormones will likely affect how your boobs feel at different times during your menstrual cycle. If you do find something abnormal, our mantra is: if in doubt, get it checked out. 

Want monthly boob-checking reminders?

Currently only 30% of women aged 18-29 years old check their boobs monthly, which is something that needs to change. In the midst of essay deadlines, endless hangovers and scouting out seats in the library during exam season, boob checks are often something that slip out of students’ minds. This is where CoppaFeel!’s monthly text reminders come in handy. By texting UBT LEEDS to 70500, you can opt in to receiving FREE punny and light-hearted reminder texts once a month. 

It doesn’t take a lot to sign up, but could one day save your life. 

Ellie Futter