Breast self exam at least once a month helps you to rule out any chances of breast cancer at the initial stages of the disease. Here we will discuss the symptoms that you should look for during a breast self exam. Did you know that close to 13% of the female population of the US will have a breast cancer scare during their lives? Each year over 180,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer—that’s 1 in 8 women in the US—and nearly 44,000 die each year from the disease. Chances are if you don’t already know a woman who has had breast cancer, you will know several during your lifetime. It is a serious and deadly disease, and your chances of getting the disease are double if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed.
But the earlier that breast cancer can be detected, the better chance it has of being removed and the better chance you have of making a full recovery. That’s why mammograms are so important. The medical community recommends that women over 40 have yearly mammograms. And if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed, your doctor may suggest you start yearly exams earlier.
However, a once-a-year test may not be enough to detect early stages of breast cancer, that’s why performing monthly breast self-exams is a good idea for all women, regardless of age. In fact, the sooner you start performing monthly self-exams, the more you will know about your own breast health and be able to recognize when something is different.
How To Conduct A Breast Self Exam?
(1) First you want to stand in front of a mirror and look at the size, shape, and condition of your breasts.
Things to look for:
a. Changes in size or shape
b. Nipple inversion
c. Flattening or dimpling
(2) Raise your arms and place your hands behind your head, visually examining your breasts for any other changes.
Things to look for:
b. Hardness in movement
c. Pain or ache in breasts when raising your arms
(3) Keep one hand behind your head and use your other hand to feel the breast next to arm that is still raised.
What to do:
a. First, take your first, middle, and ring finger and touch your breast from top to bottom and side to side into your armpit, feeling for general changes like a hard spot, lump, soreness, itchiness, or unusual discharge.
b. Next, use two fingers, start from the nipple, and work around your breast in a circular motion, feeling the deep tissue of your breast for any changes like those already mentioned above.
c. Repeat on the other side.
Keep in mind that you should do your breast exam a few days after your period, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen or sore. Remember, monthly exams will not only alert you to potential areas of concern in your breasts, but will make you aware of how your breasts feel normally, so you will be able to notice when there is any change. And if you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot potential problems right away, alert your doctor, and be a survivor.
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