Sunday, 17 October 2010

Check it out...

Right, this is something that I've had a couple of potential scares with in my life. It's something I take seriously and although this is a fairly lighthearted post, the message is fairly clear.

I've spoken about different exercises you can do to get fit, there are some things that you can do extra to exercising which will improve health... checking yourself out! No, I'm not talking about posing naked in front of the mirror to marvel at your achievements, I'm talking about ladies checking your breasts and men checking your testicles. It is such a vital thing to do yet hardly anyone does, once a week - that's all you have to do.

Ladies, check your whole breast, be thorough. This includes the armpits, breast and upper chest. There are many cancer sites that use the 'TLC' rule: Touch, Look, Check. I'll include a list of helpful websites at the bottom of the post. The average woman's breasts are made up of mostly fibrous (fatty) tissue, underneath the fibrous tissue are ligaments and muscle that support them - effectively your 'Pecs'. It's good for women to keep their Pecs exercised well, the twin towers need a solid foundation to keep them up girls!

There should be no major changes in texture, no discharge coming from the nipples, nothing should be going crusty or weeping, the nipples shouldn't have inflamed or sunk in, and there should be no large lumps. That being said many women do have what is termed by Doctors to be "Lumpy Breasts", I've had a couple of times where I've gone to the hospital because I've found a lump and I've been reassured that it's not serious. There's no shame or a black mark on your medical record if you turn up every fortnight saying you've found something, they won't see it as a waste of their time at all. Also, if the Doctor does feel something they now have to refer you to the hospital for a scan, even if they don't think it's serious. I had this explained to me the last time I went. Nine times out of ten a lump will be nothing more than fibrous tissue, but if that one time in ten is found then DONT PANIC. It's ok to be scared, there are so many support groups and Charities out there that will help you. If it's caught early then the percentage of full recovery rockets up.

Family factors also increase or decrease the risk. One of the things they always ask is "Has your mother or grandmother suffered from breast cancer." If the answer is 'yes' then you're in a slightly higher risk category, but it doesn't guarantee that you will get it. (By the way lads, you can develop breast cancer as well.)

This brings me on to the men, you thought you'd escaped didn't you. "She's a woman, she's only going to talk about breast cancer and woman's health." Wrong! In my opinion it is even more important for men to check their testicles than for women to check their breasts, the reason for this is that nobody talks about it. It's not advertised, it's barely funded and it's not cool for a guy to check his tackle, it's also a social and moral roadblock as it's acceptable to have a breast on screen but not the male genitalia. It's not a 'sexy' cancer, I don't ever see anyone organising National Fun Runs, or trying to push a TV advertising campaign about it. You can’t put a happy, bouncing family on it, nor can you use the image of a cute, elfin, blue eyed, blonde child forlornly towing a drip behind her.

It mainly affects younger men weirdly, between the ages of 20 and 55, it affects white men more than black and doctor's aren't entirely sure what causes it. The symptom that is mostly picked up is a painless pea sized lump or swelling in the testicles, as with breast cancer there are other less common symptoms. They include a dull ache in the scrotum, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, collection of fluid in the scrotum and feeling unwell and tired. Very rarely in the later stage symptoms can include breast tenderness, back pain, shortness of breath and coughing up blood.

It's fairly rare, only one or two in 100 of the cancers in men, it's also the most treatable of cancers with 95 in 100 men making a full recovery after treatment. Usually the treatment is the removal of the offending testicle, this doesn't mean that you can't then have children "The Gods have seen fit to grant you a spare..."

As with breast cancer family inheritance is a biggy, the main causes as far as doctors can make out are being born with undescended testicles, having a brother or father who had testicular cancer and fertility problems. Seriously guys, check them. Hey, even get someone else to check them 'While they're down there!' It's most often your partner who discovers the obvious symptoms anyway, they're a bit tricky to get into your own sight range. I really hope you'll take what I've said here to heart, just once a week for ten minutes max. If you find anything for God sake go to the Doctor fast, it could save your life.

Handy websites:

Breast Cancer.Org
Breast Cancer Care 
Cancer Research UK
Maggies Centres

1 comment:

  1. Cracking post Mrs! my friends partner lost one of his nuggets to this dreaded disease, well reminded that a quick check every week can save your life.