With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s talk about early detection. Quite possibly the best way to catch breast cancer early is performing an at home, self-breast exam.
Breast self exam, or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer or fibroadenoma early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully.
Regular self breast examination are something every woman should feel comfortable and confident doing as a part of your healthy routine.
Look For These Changes
- Nipple Discharge– any unusual discharge from either of your nipples.
- Change In Size Or Shape– can you see any change in size or shape? Example, one breast might be larger or lower than the other.
- Color Change- See for change in color of breast, if breast may look red or inflamed.
- Change In Skin Texture– Is there any change in skin texture? Skin of breast might be puckering or dimpling.
- Change In The Shape Of Nipple– Does nipples look any different?
- Rash And Crusting– Watch for any kind of rashes or anything unusual.
How To Do Monthly Breast Self Examination?
Use the pads of your three middle fingers. Begin in your armpit, using small circular motions with varying degrees of pressure, to examine your entire breast area.
Breast Examination Grid
Move your fingers up and down over your entire breast area, from the collarbone to below the breast and side to side, from your breast bone to your armpit.
Breast Self Examination Steps
Stand In Front Of Mirror
- Stand in front of a mirror to look at your breasts. With your hands relaxed at your sides, look for any differences in shape/size/position, also check skin tone and skin condition.
- Put your hands firmly on your hips, pressing down, look at them straight then turn to see the sides. Roll your shoulders forward and check again from the front and sides.
- Put your hands on the back of your head, pressing them forward. Look at your breasts from both sides and the front. Lift them with the opposite hand if necessary to look at the skin and shape on the underside.
- Place your thumb and finger on the skin surrounding your nipple, gently pull on your nipple and check for discharge. Also, check to see that the nipples look normal and hasn’t become inverted or changed position.
2. Examine While In Shower
Breast self examination is easier when your skin is wet and soapy. In the shower, raise your right arm above your head. Think about the BSE grid as you cover your entire breast area, using the “touch technique” described above. Repeat for left side.
3. Examine In Lying Down Position
Lying down helps to flatten the breast making it easier to examine the breast tissue by pressing it. Lie down and put your left arm under your head. Use your right hand to examine your left breast. With your middle 3 fingers flat, move gently in small circular motions over the entire breast.
Checking for any lump, hard knot or thickening. Use different types of pressure– light, medium and firm- over each area of your breast. Check the whole breast from your collar bone above your breast down to the ribs below your breast. Switch arms and repeat on the other breast.
Should men also do a breast examination?
While breast cancer is rare in men, they can still perform self-breast exams. This is especially important for men who have a family history or are at high risk. Why not? That’s how I feel about it.
What should you do if you find something?
Contact your doctor & get an appointment to be checked out. Even if you’re not sure if it’s anything. If you are thinking to wait and see if it gets bigger or changes, don’t. Call your doctor now and get evaluated. This is something you should not compromise with, even if you’re scared. Just remember, the earlier you detect something the better your chances are to beat it.
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