Breast Self Exam
A breast self-exam increase a woman’s awareness of her normal breast tissue. The goal of the breast self-exam is to identify changes in the breasts that may indicate a medical problem. In the past, the self-exams were considered crucial as a means for detecting breast cancer early. The breast exams may not have as much benefit as previously thought for early breast cancer detection, although the exams may still allow you to notice a lump when it is small. Early detection is key. Here’s how you begin:
Examine your breasts on the same day each month, typically a few days after your period is over to allow hormone levels to even out.
Inspect your breasts visually in front of a mirror while standing or sitting with your arms against your sides. Look for visual changes in your breasts, including dimples, puckering, size, shape, symmetry and inverted nipples.
Examine your breasts for the same visual changes with your hands on your hips. Raise your hands over your head and press the palms together to visually examine the breasts at this angle.
Feel your breasts with the pads of your fingers while in the shower or lying in bed. Apply consistent pressure that allows you to feel the tissues inside the breast without causing pain. Note any differences in how the breast tissue feels, including lumps or thickening.
Divide the breast visually into sections similar to pie wedges, examining one section at a time. Start from the outside of the breast and work toward the nipple.
Examine the nipples and areola, noting any discharge from the breast.
Write down the findings from your breast self-exam in a notebook. MayoClinic.com suggests drawing a diagram of the breasts, noting any differences in how the breasts feel in specific areas. Document this information each time you perform a breast exam to identify changes in breast tissue.
The breast self exam should be performed every month to ensure there are no changes to your breast. If you notice any changes that appear irregular, notify your physician immediately for an appointment.