Breast Self Examination – Why & How
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different types of breast cancers. The type of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Not all tumors or lumps found in the breast are malignant. One needs to visit their doctor for further evaluation.
The chances to cure breast cancer is high if detected early. Hence it is very important to look for any symptoms.
It is important for women to do a breast self-exam every month to check for changes. It is easier to treat and cure cancer early when it is easier to detect and treat. Regular breast examinations can help maintain breast health and detect cancer early. While most abnormalities and lumps don’t indicate cancer, you should alert your doctor about any changes you notice.
What is a breast self-exam?
An easy method for women to examine their breasts is a breast self-exam. When you regularly examine and feel your breasts, you can spot any irregularities.
Why should I do breast self-exams?
By checking your breasts monthly, you can spot changes that may indicate infection or cancer (such as lumps or spots that feel different). The chances of surviving breast cancer are much higher when the disease is detected early.
Conducting regular self-examinations is essential for breast health.
Doctors recommend screening tests and exams (such as mammograms) in addition to these. Regular visits to your primary care provider and/or gynecologist are still recommended.
Is there a particular time of the month I should do breast self-exams?
Every month, women should self-examine their breasts. After their period, women who are still menstruating (having a regular period) should perform a breast self-exam. Menstruating women and women who have irregular periods can pick a day of the month. Consider picking a consistent and easy-to-remember day, such as the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.
How long does a breast exam take?
This simple self-exam can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and takes only a few minutes. Perform the breast exam while:
- wearing clothing during the day or undressing at night.
- lying in bed in the morning or at bedtime.
- taking a shower.
What are the steps of a breast self-exam?
- Visual inspection:Stand in front of a mirror with your shirt and bra off. Place your arms at your sides. Look for any changes in breast form, breast swelling, skin dimpling, or nipple alterations. Then, with your arms raised high overhead, search for the same items. Finally, press your hands firmly against your hips to flex your chest muscles. Keep an eye out for the same changes. Make sure you examine both breasts.
- Manual inspection while standing up:Remove your shirt and bra and examine your left breast with your right hand, then the other way around. Press each section of one breast with the pads of your three middle fingers. Apply gentle pressure first, then medium, and finally firm. Look for lumps, thick patches, or other irregularities. A circular pattern may assist you in hitting all of the targets. Then, under the arm, push the tissue. Check for discharge under the areola and then gently pinch the nipple. On the opposite side of your body, repeat the steps.
- Manual inspection while lying down:Your breast tissue distributes more evenly when you lie down. So, especially if your breasts are enormous, this is a wonderful posture to feel for changes. Place a pillow beneath your right shoulder and lie down. Your right arm should be behind your head. Apply the same approach as step 2 with your left hand, pressing all sections of the breast tissue and under your arm with the pads of your fingers. Finally, switch to the opposite side of the pillow and inspect the other breast and armpit. Check under the areola and gently pinch the nipple to see if there is any discharge.
RESULTS AND FOLLOW-UP
When should I consult my doctor about something I find in my breast self-exam?
Stay calm if you discover a lump or any other concerning changes. The majority of self-examination findings are not indicative of breast cancer. However, if you detect any, you should contact your doctor:
- A change in the breast’s appearance, sensation, or size
- The nipple’s appearance or feel changes
- Puffiness or dimpling of the skin
- Breast lump, hard knot, or thick area
- Nipple discharge
- Pulling inward of the nipple or other region
- A persistent ache in one location
- A rash around the nipple
- One or both breasts are swollen
- Redness, warmth, or dark patches on the skin.
Key take aways:
A monthly breast self-exam will aid in the maintenance of breast health and the detection of early signs of illness. You can add breast inspection stages into your daily routine, such as when getting ready for bed or showering. With eachbreast examination breast self-examination, you will gain a better understanding of your body. You will be more aware of changes if you know what is normal for you.
Breast cancer awareness services, including breast cancer screening, are offered by many hospitals, clinics, and health care providers.