How can I perform a Breast Self Examination
As we know early detection for most cancers improves your chances of a full recovery. It is no different with breast cancer. As such you should do regular breast self-examination. It is recommended that they are done once a month.
Timing is everything. The ideal time for a breast exam is one week after your menstrual period. Your breasts are least swollen and sensitive at this time.
Post-menopausal women can simply do their breast exams at the same time each month. The first or last day of each month is pretty easy to remember. However, if you are post-menopausal you should also have regular mammogram screenings.
If you have breast implants, breast self-examinations are extremely important since sometimes implants can hide abnormalities that ordinarily would show up in a mammogram.
You should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible if you discover anything irregular or if you are at risk for breast cancer.
In order to perform a proper breast self-examination, you need to know what to do.
Here we have put together 5 easy steps to guide you through the Breast Self-Examination process.
STEP 1: STAND IN FRONT OF A MIRROR WITH YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HIPS.
The list below is thorough and shows you what to look for in great detail.
Shape: Look at both breasts to see if there is anything that stands out. It is normal for one of your breasts to be large than the other. You may have discovered this already. However, there should not be a sudden change in size.
Skin: Check for anything that was not there before. This includes rashes, puckering, redness, dimples, or orange-peel-textured appearance.
Nipples: Inspect your nipples for any sign of scaliness, swelling, discharge, itching, or bleeding. Also, check if your nipples appear to have suddenly inverted (turned inwards)
Vein patterns: Look at both breasts to see if there are more veins on one breast than the other. Additionally, note whether your veins have increased in size.
STEP 2: NOW, RAISE YOUR ARMS ABOVE YOUR HEAD AND LOOK FOR THE SAME ABNORMALITIES.
Simply, repeat STEP 1 with your arms extended above your head.
STEP 3: EXAMINE YOUR BREASTS WHILE RAISING YOUR ARMS ONE AT A TIME
- Take your right hand to examine your left breast.
- Keep your fingers together, and place it flat against your skin.
- Press your breast firmly with your fingers and using circular motions
- start examining from your outer breast (under the arm) and work your way towards the nipple.
- Repeat the process on your right breast.
STEP 4: EXAMINE YOUR ARMPITS
- Move your shoulder forward and search your underarm area for enlarged lymph nodes. Also, probe above and below your collar bone.
- Do the same on the other side.
- Many women prefer to do their breast examinations in the shower since it is easier when their skin is already wet.
STEP 5: FINALLY, FEEL YOUR BREASTS WHILE LYING DOWN.
- Finally, feel your breasts while lying on your back.
- Using the same hand movements of steps 3 and 4, examine both your breasts. That’s it your done.
You may have questions regarding breast cancer and all that it entails. Below, is a list of the questions that most patients ask when visiting us.
Am I at risk of getting breast cancer?
There is a higher risk of getting breast cancer if you have a family member:
– with breast cancer
– under the age of 40 with breast cancer
With ovarian or colon cancer can you get breast cancer if you wear a bra all the time, or when your partner caresses them?
No, you can rest easy. You cannot get breast cancer from these activities. Neither clothing nor physical manipulation of your breasts increases your risk for breast cancer.
Do I need to perform Mammogram?
Mammograms are useful to detect tumors before they can even be felt. This is why screening is strongly recommended.
However, women under 40 do not have to do a mammogram unless they have a family history of breast cancer.
If you’re over 40, you should visit your doctor for a yearly clinical breast examination and a mammography screening. Women 50 and over should do their mammograms bi-annually since breast cancer risk factors increase with age.
So, if you have done your breast exam and are concerned, please feel free to consult your doctor!
- Scheel, J. R., Molina, Y., Coronado, G., Bishop, S., Doty, S., Jimenez, R., Thompson, B., Lehman, C. D., & Beresford, S. A. (2017). Healthcare Factors for Obtaining a Mammogram in Latinas With a Variable Mammography History. Oncology nursing forum, 44(1), 66–76. https://doi.org/10.1188/17.ONF.66-76
- Dagne, A. H., Ayele, A. D., & Assefa, E. M. (2019). Assessment of breast self- examination practice and associated factors among female workers in Debre Tabor Town public health facilities, North West Ethiopia, 2018: Cross- sectional study. PloS one, 14(8), e0221356. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221356
- Mekonnen B. D. (2020). Breast self-examination practice and associated factors among female healthcare workers in Ethiopia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 15(11), e0241961. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241961
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