A breast self-examination is one of the most important things a woman can do to spot the first sign of trouble that points to breast disease. It is estimated that up to 40% of breast cancers are first detected through a breast self-examination.
Given that almost half the number of breast cancers are detected by this method, it is important that every woman is aware of how her breasts look and feel on a regular basis. In this way, any abnormality during a breast self-examination will be easily detected.
Ways To Perform A Breast Self-Examination
When To Perform A Breast Self-Examination
A breast self-examination takes just a few minutes to perform if done the right way. It is recommended that a woman examines her breasts at least once a month, 3 to 5 days after her period starts; the breasts are not tender, swollen or painful at this time of the monthly cycle. Women who have undergone menopause must do this examination on the same day of every month. Any abnormalities noted during this time of the month must be reported to her primary healthcare physician.
How To Perform A Breast Self-Examination
It is easiest to perform a breast self-examination when lying down because the tissue of the breasts are evenly spread out across the chest wall. This makes it easier to examine the breasts. When standing in front of the mirror, it is possible to notice changes and abnormalities in the appearance of the breasts.
Hence, a breast self-examination must be performed both lying down and standing up. It is important to be aware of the fact that a lump can pop up overnight and hence it is advisable to repeat this examination as often as possible.
In The Shower
Stand upright, with your right arm behind your head. With the finger pads of your left hand, press down gently and yet firmly and feel the right breast in a circular motion – moving from the outside to the center. Move slowly and watch out for lumps, thickened skin and knots in the breast. Cover the entire breast and the area under the armpit. Repeat this procedure on the other breast.
While Lying Down
Lie down on your back, with a pillow alongside and under the right breast and shoulder. Place your right hand over your head. Firmly and yet gently feel the right breast with the finger pads of your left hand, in a circular motion. Watch out for any abnormalities such as lumps, thickened skin and knots. Squeeze the nipple gently and look out for any discharge. Repeat this procedure on the left side.
It is quite normal and natural for women to have breasts that look a little different from each other; lumps are quite common too. Find out what is normal for you and alert your primary care physician as soon as you notice any abnormality. Do not skip any of the above steps when examining your breasts.
In Front Of The Mirror
Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit room. Carefully look at the breasts and watch out for changes on the surface of the skin such as puckering, dimpling, an orange-peel effect on the skin and changes in the texture. Look for these changes under the breasts, on the sides of the breasts and under the armpits as well.
It is also important to detect changes in the shape and size of the breasts and nipples. Repeat this procedure with your hands lifted up over your head.