Breast Self-Exam Routine for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is common in women but can also occurs in men.
Regular self-examination of breast on your own, can be a prime factor to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully.
Breast self-exam is a convenient, no-cost test that can be done on regular basis at any age. I recommend every women to perform the self-exam of the breast as a routine as a part of breast cancer screening strategy.
You must be wondering, what exactly is self-test of breast.
In simple words, a check-up that a woman does at home so as to look for any kind of problems or changes in the tissues of the breast is termed as self-test of breast.
Here’s what you should look for:
- Size, shape, and colour of the breast
- Check for distortion in the shape, or any swellings/lump
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out) or
- Nipple discharge (fluid which could be watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood)
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Four steps in breast cancer self-examination
Step 1 – Start with checking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders keeping straight and arms on your hips.
Step 2 – Next, raise up your arms and look for any changes.
Step 3 – Later, lie down and feel your breasts. Use your right hand to feel your left breast and vice versa. A firm and smooth touch with the first few finder pads of your hands, keep the fingers flat and together in a circular motion. Cover the breast from top to bottom, side to side from collarbone to abdomen and from armpit to cleavage. Follow the same pattern to make sure that you cover the entire breast.
Step 4 – Lastly, feel your breast while you are standing and sitting.
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What to do if you find a lump?
- Do not panic if you feel like there is a lump in your breast. Most of the women have lumps or some lumpy areas in their breasts but most of the breast lumps turns out to be non-cancerous. The are number of possible causes of benign lumps, including normal hormonal changes or an injury.
- Do not hesitate to call your doctor If you’ve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worrisome.
- Take doctor’s assessment a detailed health history and physical exam of the breast are initial steps of assessments by doctor. The only imaging test used to evaluate a lump in women who are under age 30 or are pregnant or breastfeeding is ultrasound. To evaluate a lump in women who are over age 30 and not pregnant or breastfeeding, both an ultrasound and a mammogram are typically recommended.
If needed an Oncologist would ask for MRI and biopsy for further evaluation.
How to make self-examination of breasts as a part of your breast cancer screening strategy?
Make it routine
The more you know your breasts, the more you understand them. That makes it much easier for you to detect any changes that might occur in your breasts.
Make sure that you do the self-test of breast very month to familiarize yourself on how your breast look and feel normally.
Once your period ends, wait for a couple of days and examine yourself because it’s the time when your breast are least likely to be tender or swollen.
Get to know your breasts
It can be serious if lumps are formed in the upper and lower areas near your armpits.
The lower half of your breast can feel like a sandy or pebbly beach. The area under the nipple can feel like a collection of large grains. Another part might feel like a lumpy bowl of oatmeal.
Make a note of the findings of your breast self-exams
Making a note will definitely help you remember what’s normal for your breasts. Lumps may appear at certain times of a month and later disappear because of your menstrual cycle and it’s absolutely normal.
A single test can’t detect breast cancer early. A combination of breast self-exam with screening methods can increase the chances of early detection.
Many Breast Cancer patients have reported that they have found lumps in their breasts initially. This serves as one of the first symptoms to look for in Breast Cancer. I, therefore, recommend you to know your breasts well and keep examining them.
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