The actress and mum of three shared a video on Instagram; it may seem lighthearted but it's a necessary reminder of a serious issue as we near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
It's nearing the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you gone for your mammogram? Are you checking your breasts for the signs and symptoms of breast cancer? Jennifer Garner wants to remind you of its importance with a PSA. On her Instagram, she posted a video of herself getting her annual mammogram to remind her followers to get their checkups.
Breast cancer screening involves an x-ray of the breast tissue called a mammogram. Women between the ages of 50 and 67 are invited to get a mammogram every two years, but you should always be breast aware, including self-examinations.
The most common cancer in women in Ireland
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in Ireland: one out of every eleven women in Ireland will get breast cancer. Breast cancer screening reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer, because it means it's found and treated early.
There are over 3,000 diagnoses made every year, and approximately eight women are diagnosed with the illness every single day. Given its prevalence in this country, it's important we give ourselves the best chance; that is going for screenings and equally important, regularly checking our breasts for changes – no matter how big or small.
Related: Breast cancer awareness: how to check your breasts at home
The 47-year-old can be seen going through the procedure, which involves taking X-rays of the breasts. She makes a slightly uncomfortable face while she’s getting this done (some can find this part uncomfortable but it's still a must). You also see Garner cheerfully doodling faces on anatomical diagrams of breasts.
In the end, she and her doctor give a thumbs up to the camera after her physician tells her the mammogram looks perfect, but she has reminded us that it's always good to get checked regularly, symptoms or not.
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"For me, having the appointment on the books makes it routine, like the dentist. I know it’s scary, sisters, but just do it—the next best thing to an all-clear is early detection. To everyone in the thick of the battle—respect and love and strength to you," she wrote.
Related: Serena Williams sings I touch myself for breast cancer awareness
How to check your breasts at home
Illustration by Sophie Teyssier
Approximately 74% of Irish women with breast cancer discovered the lump themselves, which highlights the importance of examining your breasts at home. Here are four ways to do that:
- Stand in front of a mirror and become familiar with what your breasts look like from all angles. Note their size, pigmentation, the appearance of the skin and the appearance of the nipple.
- Using four fingers and the flat of your hand, begin at the outer edge of the breast (nearest your chest) and work around in a full 360-degree circle. Keep pressing the breast in circular motions, noticing if any breast tissue feels different from the rest. Continue feeling around in circular motions, moving inwards, until you reach the nipple.
- Next, check your armpit, as breast tissue extends here. Raising one arm up above your head, use your four fingers (flat, just as before) and feel around the breast tissue. Repeat with your other armpit. Some women find this easier to do while lying down.
- Gently squeeze your nipple and check for discharge.
Find your 'normal' while checking symptoms
The Irish Cancer Society says to look out for the following symptoms:
- A change in size or shape – it may be that one breast has become larger than the other.
- Changes in the nipple – in direction or shape. Is it pulled in or flattened?
- Changes on or around the nipple – is there a rash, flaky or crusted skin?
- Changes in the skin – dimpling, puckering or redness.
- 'Orange peel’ appearance of the skin caused by unusually enlarged pores.
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone.
- A lump, any size, or thickening in your breast.
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit.
See a video demonstrating the full self-check routine here:
Main photograph: @ForbesTech
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