Self-Checks and Screening

It is good practice to self-check for cancer every two months or more often if you are concerned with discomfort in certain areas. This is especially important in reproductive organs as cancer prevalence is common in these. For a lot of people, there can be an element of embarrassment talking about it, but it’s important to be confident when checking yourself in case there is something of concern that might otherwise take longer to identify. If you maintain this practice, you will be aware of the normal appearance of your body – meaning if anything is abnormal, it will be easier to notice.

Testicular Self-Checking

  • Find the right time to do a self-check. It is easiest to do it after a hot shower or bath, as this is when the scrotum (skin around the testicle) is most relaxed.
  • Examine one testicle at a time. Start by gripping the top of the scrotum gently, with your thumb on top and your fingers underneath.
  • Pinch gently so the testicle does not move.
  • With your other hand, glide your thumb and fingers along both sides of the testicle, from top to bottom – feel for any lumps or bumps.
  • Then glide your fingers over the front and back of the testicle.
  • At the top of a testicle, you may feel a lump. This is the epididymis – a tube carrying sperm. It is normal and nothing to worry about.
  • Lumps may be as small as a grain of rice or a pea, tell your doctor if you notice anything abnormal. This could be swelling, lumps, or changes in the size or colour of the testicle. You may also have pain or achy areas in your groin.
  • Sometimes lumps and swelling may not lead to a diagnosis, but it is important to check as an early diagnosis of testicular cancer is almost always curable if treated early.

Breast Self-Check

  • Look in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips, and then with your arms in the air.
  • Feel around your breast in a circular motion and then feel under your arm.
  • Feel behind the nipple.
  • Check your breasts are their usual size, shape and colour with no distortion or swelling.
  • If there are any abnormalities including dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin or nipple changes (changing position or inverting) or you notice any redness, soreness, swelling or rash then do consult a GP.
  • Get used to the normal appearance of your breasts. Doing this regularly will help you to identify any abnormalities more quickly.
It’s important not to rush to conclusions if you spot something abnormal when you do a self-check, as a lot of the time it may not be cancer. If, however, after seeing a GP, it turns out to be cancer, you should be prepared to know what happens next.

Cancer Screening

Cancer screening is used by the NHS to test healthy people for signs of cancer. It can save lives by finding cancers at an early stage and even preventing them in cases where there is a cancer risk. Screening is not the same as tests that someone may be sent for when going to the doctor with symptoms of cancer. The UK has 3 main screening programmes:

  • Bowel Cancer Screening – Tests are sent to people who are eligible every 2 years. In the UK people aged 60-74 are eligible and in Wales and Scotland people aged 55-74 are eligible. This screening test is called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT). This looks for tiny traces of blood in a sample of poo, which can be an indication of bowel cancer.
  • Breast Cancer Screening – This is available to women between the ages of 50 and 70. It involves a mammogram, which is an x-ray of the breast. Results normally come in the form of a letter within 2 weeks and will explain the next steps. All women in this age range are invited by the NHS to take the test every 3 years. Women over 70 can still have screenings but won’t automatically be invited.
  • Cervical Screening – This programme invites women aged 25-64 for cervical screening. In England and Northern Ireland, you will get an invite every 3 years if you are 25-49. After that, you will get an invite every 5 years until you are 64. For Wales and Scotland, you will get an invite every 5 years if you are 25-64. Cervical cancer screening is a way of preventing cancer. It tests for a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). High-risk HPV can cause cervical cells to become abnormal. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are linked to high-risk HPV.
Safeena - Muslim Cancer Support Network

Safeena - Muslim Cancer Support Network

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