The number of women surviving breast cancer is increasing as advances in medicine and awareness increase. Similar to other cancers, the earlier breast cancer is detected, the less likely it is to spread, and the more likely you are to return to your regular life as soon as possible.
Breast cancer may occur at any point in a woman’s life cycle, so you must check your breasts regularly to detect any changes. Regular self-breast examinations are an essential part of a healthy routine that every woman should feel comfortable and confident performing.
What Is A Self-Breast Exam?
Breast self-exam is a home screening method for detecting breast lumps. Breast self-exams can help identify tumors, cysts, and other abnormalities found within the breasts.
What should you look for?
Checking for lumps is not the only thing you should do. Additionally, there are several other breast cancer indicators that you can be on the lookout for. If you observe one or more of the following changes in your breast, contact your physician.
- Puckering, dimpling, or bulging of the skin
- Soreness, rash, redness, or swelling
- Nipples that have changed positions
- Inverted nipples (pushed inward rather than sticking out)
- Clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
Although self-breast exams are not as effective as Ultrasound imaging or mammograms, they can help you become familiar with your breasts’ size, shape, and texture. This information is critical as it will allow you to determine whether what you are experiencing is normal or abnormal. In the event of any abnormality in your breast, inform your healthcare provider immediately.
How To Perform A Self-Breast Exam
Starting with a bare upper body, begin your self-breast check. The best place to view yourself in a mirror is a quiet, warm, and well-lit area. In the mirror, examine and check:
- Your breasts to be sure they are the size, shape, and color they usually are.
- Your armpit area. Lift your arms above your head to inspect this area thoroughly.
- Suppose you notice any visual changes, such as swelling or distortion. If you do, consult your doctor. Even though some soreness can be attributed to PMS, look for redness, swelling, rashes, nipple changes, or bulging of the skin.
Please do not be alarmed if your breasts differ in size and shape. The body is not entirely symmetrical, so it is common for our breasts to differ from one another. The key here is to keep an eye out for any changes in your breasts in addition to any developing symptoms when performing these self-breast exams. Consequently, we must conduct monthly breast exams so we can detect any changes.
Step 1: Use Your Fingertips
In the morning or before going to sleep at night, you can quickly check when you’re lying down. The breast tissue is evenly distributed when you lie flat, making this an excellent time to examine your breasts for lumps. Place a pillow under your back to provide a flat and comfortable surface.
Step 2: Examine Breasts And Armpits
It is also vital that you check your breasts while standing or sitting up – this is much easier to do while you are in the shower since your skin is slick. In addition, you may wish to consider using baby oil or massage oil. You should use the opposite hand to check your breast. Make sure to examine your left breast with your right hand and vice versa. Be sure to keep fingers straight and together and apply a firm, smooth touch when using the fingertips.
Step 3: Use Circular and Downwards Motions
Start at the nipple and work your way outward in a circular motion, or use an up-and-down movement. As there is no right or wrong way to take the examination, you should choose whatever is comfortable. You should cover the entire abdomen and collarbone, as well as your armpit and center of the chest.
Step 4: Take Note Of Discharge, Swelling, or Redness
Please do not panic if you notice anything unusual – most breast lumps are not cancerous. Nonetheless, please make sure you speak with your doctor or gynecologist if you notice any changes during the examination.
A high-frequency sound wave is used to create an image of the internal structure of the body. Ideally, it is helpful to differentiate between air-filled, liquid-filled, and solid structures. In other words, if you find a lump, an ultrasound test should be able to help you determine whether it is cause for concern.
Mammograms are diagnostic x rays that are used to detect breast cancer at an earlier stage. It involves compressing the breasts in an x-ray machine while photos are being taken. It is a brief procedure that takes no more than fifteen minutes. In most cases, the results will be typical; however, some women may require additional tests before a diagnosis can be made.
Finally, a breast self-exam is a physical examination of your breasts that you carry out independently. You can increase your breast awareness by using your eyes and hands to detect any changes in the appearance or feel of your breasts. Discuss any new breast changes with your physician. Though many of the breast changes detected during self-examinations are benign, others may indicate a more severe condition, such as breast cancer.