The non-profit group Worldwide Breast cancer has developed some really useful visuals to help educate women about breast cancer. They chose visuals so as to not rely on words to avoid literacy issues and also language issues for multicultural audiences. But selecting the right visual was very difficult too.

They decided to use lemons to represent breasts so that the images would be acceptable to all different cultures, wouldn’t be censored, but are clear enough for people to understand. The visuals help describe both what breast cancer looks like, and what it feels like.

Take a look and see what you think.

The first image at the top of this blog post clearly illustrates what breast cancer can look like and shows that breast cancer can present itself in different ways besides a lump.

This second image relates to how it might feel – likening a cancerous lump to feeling like a lemon seed/pip. 

Image from showing a sliced-through lemon, indicating what might be felt during a breast exam, including lymph nodes and milk nodes

And this next image illustrates how to do a self breast exam.

Image showing how to perform a self-exam of your breasts after your period

I think these visuals are useful for all of us.  What do you think? 

What these visuals don’t include however, and it is important to remember, is that not all breast irregularities and lumps are cancerous. Benign changes in the breast occur very frequently in women, and might be:

  • cysts (fluid filled sacs) from fibrocystic breast changes, which can often be painful (Of note: pain is rarely the initial symptom of breast cancer)
  • fibrosis (firmness in the tissue) – feeling lumpy, thickened, and tender
  • benign breast tumors
  • mastitis, most often seen during breast feeding, and may include abscesses
  • fat necrosis, often when an injury heals and leaves scar tissue that feels like a lump

The take home message is that all changes or irregularities warrant proper investigation, but just because you feel changes, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily breast cancer. Prompt assessment can help with the anxiety, worry, and treatment.

I hope you’ll share these images with others, so we can all learn the warning signs and how to detect them. Check out the Worldwide Breast cancer website for more information and to view these pictures in other languages.

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