Breast Self Exam
Breast Self-exam, is the easiest and painless way to examine your own breast., in private, on your own schedule. Early detection is important, because when a cancer is detected in the early stages, treatments can be more effective. By getting to know how your breasts normally look and feel, the breast self-exam can be an added defense against dying of breast cancer. Eearly detection saves lives.
How you perform a breast self-exam:
- Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed at your side. Get to know how your breasts look. Even a small visual change may be a significant early sign of a problem. Compare your breasts while turning from side to side. Look for any changes in breast size, shape, skin texture or color including redness, dimpling, puckering or retraction (pulling back of your skin). Notice any nipple changes, such as scaliness, a pulling to one side, or a change in direction.
- Place your hands at your waist and bow toward the mirror, letting your breasts fall forward. Note any change in breast shape.
- Use the opposite hand for each breast. A little skin cream or lotion on your fingers will make them more sensitive. Make circles starting at the outside edge of your breast and then move your fingers toward the nipple making smaller circles each time, until you cover the entire breast. Make sure you check your nipple. Repeat on the other breast. You can also lie down to perform the exam.
- Hold the fingers of your hand together. Use the pads of your fingers, not the tips. Keep constant contact and pressure with your skin
- Check yout underarm area for lumps or thickening. Reach across with your other hand to feel the area. Note any changes from previous self-exams.
Signs that you should not ignore:
- lumps, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
- change in the size or shape of the breast
- dimpling or puckering of the skin
- pulling in of your nipple or itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
- nipple discharge that starts suddenly
How often shouls I perform my breast self-exam?
Our clinic follows the American Cancer Society (ACS) Breast Screening Guidelines. According to ACS guidelines, you should perform a breast self-exam (BSE), each month. By becoming more familiar with your normal breast tissue and appearance, it may make it easier for you to notice changes if and when they occur. The ideal time for a BSE is seven to 10 days after the first day of your menstrual period. Your breasts are naturally less lumpy and tender at this time. The same is true if you have breast implants. If you are pregnant, or no longer have menstrual cycles, you can perform your BSE at any time, but make it the same time each month. If you are breast feeding, you should also perform your monthly BSE at the same time each month. Be sure to do it after you have fed the baby, not before. Any time of the day is okay.
Most of the times the changes women find in their breasts are not cancer. Most commonly, lumps such as cysts, are benign and are usually not a serious health problem. If you do find a change in your breasts, visit our clinic as soon as you can. The doctor will be able to do tests to tell you what the change in your breast means. The sooner you have these tests the better. A visit to your doctor will give you peace of mind if your lump is not cancer. And it may save your life if you need medical treatment.