In Kenya, the age-standardized rate of breast cancer incidence is 40.3 per 100,000 women, making it the most common cancer among Kenyan women.
In 2013, the reported mortality rate from breast cancer in Kenya was 7.1 per 100,000 women. Corresponding rates in the United States in 2015 are 124.8 and 20.3 per 100,000 women for incidence and mortality, respectively.
How can women carry out a self-breast examination? It is advisable to have a self-breast examination at least once a month. The best time for a self-breast examination for ladies is about a week after the monthly period ends when the breasts are not tender and swollen.
First, lie on your back. Place a pillow under the left shoulder. Put your left hand behind your head so that your breast is flat. Use the pads of your three middle fingers to check the breasts. Use your left hand for the right breast and your right hand for the left.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure in a circular motion without lifting your fingers off the skin. Follow an up and down pattern. Repeat the same process on both breasts.
Second, before a mirror, look for any changes from normal. With arms at your side, inspect both breasts. Then raise your arms above your head and compare the breasts. Now, place the hands on your hips, flex the chest and muscles and compare again.
Bend forward with the hands on the hips. Straighten up and examine the entire area under the collarbone, under your arms, down across your rib cage, and up the breastbone. Check for lumps, hard knots, swelling, dimpling, or thickening.
While in the shower, raise your arm to examine your breast as you would do lying down. Repeat for the left breast. Gently feel for abnormal lumps and thickening.
Let us encourage our mothers and sisters to do this at least once a month and encourage them to report any unusual feeling to the nearest health facility.