Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and may affect as many as one in eight.
Breastcancer.org recommends self-examination as an important and useful screening tool, especially in combination with regular mammography, doctor exams and, in some cases, an ultrasound or MRI. Each of these tools works in a different manner. A breast self-exam is a free, convenient tool that you can regularly use at any age, and so routine self-exams are an excellent addition to your health screening strategy.
Being familiar with your breasts will help you to notice if there are any changes, such as a lump, dimpling, redness, puckering, rash, swelling, pain or changes to your nipple.
If you notice new changes, consult with your doctor. Though most changes found during a self-exam for breast awareness are benign, some of them may be signs of something serious.
Why Do Regular Breast Self-Exams?
There are many factors that can cause changes in your breasts; one of them is breast cancer.
Although the self-exam isn’t always a sure way to find breast cancer, a large number of women said that the first sign of their cancer was a new lump they found on their own.
Every woman, even if she has implants or is breastfeeding, should do a regular self-exam. The best time to do the exams is about seven days after your period when your breasts are less tender and swollen. If you don’t have regular periods, you can pick a day every month for your regular exam and do it on the same day.
When and Where to Do a Breast Self-Check
Because a shower is generally a routine part of your day, it can be helpful to perform your self-check at this time, so that it becomes a (healthy) habit. While you are in the shower, press firmly with pads of your three middle fingers with a circular pattern, gently moving over soapy skin. Do not lift your fingers as you move around the breast in a circular motion. Check the entire breast and the armpit. Use your right hand to check your left breast and your left hand for your right breast. Look for a hard knot, lump, thickening or nipple discharge.
Move around the breast either in a circle or an up and down motion. This way, you can make sure you do it the same way every time. Make sure that you’ve gone over the whole breast area and that you remember how your breast feels every month. You can also do the same check while lying down with a towel under your shoulder.
Don’t forget a visual exam, as well. Look in a mirror for changes in size, shape, or in how the nipples or skin look. If you see any changes, call your doctor.
More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us at 850-610-374, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion, so you, too, can experience the difference.