The age-old adage “better safe than sorry” especially holds true when it comes to spotting any breast malignancy earlier on. From twenty years of age onwards breast self-examination should be a prerogative for every woman who believes that her good health and well-being literally lies in her hands.
In breast self-examination one checks the breasts to palpate any type of lumpiness or change whilst standing ahead of a mirror or in supine position for noting any change in the way they appear.
When one knows what the normal appearance and feel of one’s breasts are then any newly detected alteration in the look or lumps must be cross-examined by an experienced doctor.
Practice makes perfect is especially applicable for breast self exam which must be performed using the correct procedure and while unclothed.
Breast self examination is preferably conducted when there is slight surface dampness on the skin, like while showering or bathing as it makes identification easier. Moreover, soap-covered fingers would be sliding effortlessly across the breasts thus augmenting the likelihood of discovering any type of changes.
Self examination should ideally be done around seven days following the initiation of your menses. This is since there is least likelihood of any tenderness or swelling which often accompanies the monthly cycle as a result of hormonal variations.
Women who experience erratic monthly periods, are menopausal or have undergone operation for removing their uterus must conduct the self exam on any decided day of the month which they can easily recollect. Nursing mothers could do the examination once they have fed their babies or having pumped out milk with some aid so that procedure is not discomforting for them.
Techniques To Identify A Lump In A Breast
According to the Mayo clinic, women ought to examine their breasts by hoisting their arms over their head and clasping them for getting the best possible view of any type of alteration in proportion, puckering or inversion. Ultimately, the breasts must be lifted up to ensure that there is symmetry in the ridge along the base. Rigid ridges in the lower curves of breasts aren’t a matter of concern.
Remember checking the nipples by totally lifting up the areolar (dark circular) areas to look for any type of discharge or other problem.
Now, while standing ahead of a mirror one must press down on the hip area for contracting muscles of the thoracic wall. Check the form, shape as well as size of breasts to spot any irregularity. Examine whether the skin appears dimpled, red, scaly or if there is fluid emission from nipple.
As per the American Cancer Society (ACS), women should lie down for conducting a breast self examination as it helps even distribution of the internal tissues over their chests which facilitates and simplifies the checking process.
After lying down in a supine position the right arm must be positioned underneath the head. Ideally, a supportive aid like cushion or pillow must be propped underneath the shoulder of that arm which is placed beneath the head.
The fleshy undersides of your index finger, middle finger and ring finger of the left hand are jointly placed at the crease of the underarm and shoulder of your right side. The fingers are then moved spirally and slowly in overlapping, smallish spherical motions with trio differing types of pressure for feeling tissues of the breast.
The fingers ought to constantly stay in touch with skin as one checks for any irregular lumpiness, thickness or newly surfaced change. Light form of pressure is necessary for palpating tissue in the subcutaneous layer. Medium-ranging pressure is deployed for examining deeper-set tissue while firm pressure is ideal for feeling tissue situated near the ribs and the longish flat bone forming the center front of the trunk wall (sternum).
The American Cancer Society suggests checking the breast in a longitudinal pattern while gradually palpating tissues starting at the underarm crease and slowly working downwards till the base of your brassiere line or where merely ribs are felt.
One then moves the fingers slightly towards the sternum while slowly tracing one’s path upwards till the clavicle or your collar bone. The fingers essentially are moved from top (the armpit crease) to down (lower margin of breast) and then across to the middle of the chest (or the sternum) and moving up to the clavicle.
Thus, an upward-downward motion is used for spanning the entire region amid the collarbone and lower edge of the breast. The same steps are repeated on the other breast as well.