The two main female specific cancers are breast and cervical cancer and this section will discuss both briefly. However, if you are concerned about either of these cancers you should consult your doctor or research information on a cancer specific website or call one of the many cancer based helplines.
Breast cancer is a cancer which can affect all women. If left untreated breast cancer can be life threatening, therefore it is important to perform regular self examinations.
Why it is important to check your breasts?
It is important to regularly examine your breasts so that you know what is normal for you and therefore, if there is a change you will become aware of it. Generally, cancers which are discovered early can be diagnosed and treated with greater success rates.
How often should you check your breasts?
Once a month is a good routine for checking your breasts, a good time to do this is during a warm bath or shower and in front of a mirror.
How to perform a breast self examine
If you have never performed a breast self examination, it is important to know that you must perform all parts of the examination gently, as otherwise you may cause yourself pain and/or discomfort!
Some changes to look out for are:
The second part of the breast self examine is to feel for changes, you may find a good time to do this part of the self examine is whilst sitting in a warm bath or in the shower.
Some changes to feel for are:
The video below shows you visually how to perform a breast self examine and is taken from The Family GP website and features Dr. Chris Steele.
Approximately 200 women per year in Ireland are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Although this number may seem low, cervical cancer remains the second most common female cancer in women under 35 years of age, after breast cancer.
Cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms until the cancer has reached an advanced stage. However, if symptoms are present they may include:
It should be stressed that having the above symptoms does not mean you have cervical cancer, these symptoms are common to many other conditions and if you are in any way concerned you should consult your doctor.