Self breast-exam, or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully. While no single test can detect all breast cancers early, Breastcancer.org believes that performing breast self-exam in combination with other screening methods can increase the odds of early detection. The thing is the earlier cancer is detected, the better are treatment options.
Many medical professionals still believes that breast self-examination is a useful and important screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and in some cases ultrasound and/or MRI. Each of these screening tools works in a different way and has strengths and weaknesses. Breast self-exam is a convenient, no-cost tool that you can use on a regular basis and at any age. It is recommend that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.
A breast self-exam is a screening technique you can do at home to check for breast lumps.
A breast self-exam can help screen for:
- other abnormalities in the breasts
When Is The Best Time To Do A Self Breast Exam
The best time to do a breast self-exam is a few days after your monthly menstrual cycle ends. Hormonal changes can affect the size and feel of your breasts, so it’s best to perform the exam when your breasts are in their normal state.
Women who don’t menstruate should choose a certain day to perform the exam, such as the first day of each month.
You should also keep a journal of your self-exams. This will help you track and record any changes you have noticed in your breasts.
How Do I Do A Self Breast Exam?
In front of a mirror
Start by standing topless in front of a mirror with your hands at your sides.
Visually inspect your breasts for the following:
- changes in size, shape, or symmetry
- inverted nipples
- asymmetrical ridges at the bottom
Check for these signs with your hands at your sides. Then, with your arms over your head, and again when lifting one breast at a time.
In the shower
- Using the pads of your fingers, not the tips, inspect your breasts while lying down and again in the shower. The water and soap in the shower will allow your fingers to glide easily over your skin.
- Using varying pressure and taking your time, massage your fingers over your breasts in a spiral pattern starting at the nipple. Make your way up to the top of your breast near the collar bone, to the center by your breastbone, and to the sides near your armpits. Do this by putting one arm over your head while massaging your breast with the other hand.
- Now, gently squeeze your nipples to check for discharge.
Risks of a Breast Self-Exam
There’s no medical risk involved in a breast self-exam. Finding a lump in your breast can be alarming, but a majority of breast lumps aren’t malignant, or cancerous. They’re typically caused by other, benign conditions.
Breast self-exams have also been associated with an increase in unnecessary breast biopsies, which are procedures that involve the surgical removal of breast tissue.
Because most abnormalities in breast tissue are noncancerous, the extra surgical procedures put women at risk for rare complications, such as bleeding and infection.
After a Breast Self-Exam
If you find a lump or abnormality, don’t panic. Remember that the vast majority of breast abnormalities turn out to be benign, or noncancerous.
Besides cancer, breast lumps can be caused by:
- fibroadenoma, which is a benign tumor of the breast tissue
- fibrocystic breast disease, which is painful, lumpy breasts caused by hormone changes
- intraductal papilloma, which is a small, benign tumor of the milk ducts
- mammary fat necrosis, which refers to lumps formed by bruised, dead, or injured fat tissue
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore a lump or abnormality. If you find a lump, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to have your breast professionally examined.
In spite of the fact that some professionals do not see breast exam as important as other tools in detection for breast abnormalities it is still just as important like other tests. It can be the first indication that something is wrong. It compliments breast cancer screening but it is not a substitute for it. Thank you for stopping by today. I encourage all of you beautiful ladies out their to perform your breast self exam regularly. Those of you who may be diagnosed with any breast ailments, I speak healing to your body in Jesu name. The name that is above every name! I wish you every success in your life. If you have comments or questions comment below.
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