As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exam regularly. It is reported that 40% of diagnosed breast cancer are detected by women who feel a lump, therefore, getting into the habit of self-exam is extremely important.
How should a breast self-exam be performed?
1) In the shower
Using your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. If notice any changes during the examination, consult your doctor.
2) In front of a mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in contouring, any swelling, dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Your left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or any other changes, particularly on one side.
3) Lying down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don’t panic, 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection.