Every woman’s breasts are different in terms of size, shape and consistency. It’s also possible for one breast to be larger than the other. When you examine your breast on your own, it can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully.
Not every cancer can be found when you examine your breast, but it is a critical step you can and should take for yourself. Breast self-examination is a useful and important screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammography, and ultrasound. Approximately 20 percent of breast cancer cases are found when you examine your breast rather than mammograms. Due to this, getting into the habit of regularly exam of your own breasts can be important way to look out for changes or symptoms. A breast self-examination is an easy and important way to look out for your health.
How to examine your breast for cancer in five steps
1. Step 1:
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. You should observe the breast for; their usual size, shape, and color without any visible swelling.
Immediately report to the hospital to see a doctor if you see any of the following changes for breast cancer exam:Dimpling, puckering, or bulging/lump/thickening area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side of the skin, a nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out), redness, soreness, rash, or swelling.
2. Step 2:
Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
3. Step 3:
While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
4. Step 4:
Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your rib cage.
5. Step 5:
Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. its also easier to detect any changes for cancer. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.
Points to note
1. Routine monthly examination
The more you examine your breasts, the more you will learn about them and the easier it will become for you to tell if something has changed. Try to get in the habit of doing a breast self-examination once a month to familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period ends, when your breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. If you are no longer having periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, such as the first or last day of the month
2. Know your breasts
The upper, outer area — near your armpit — tends to have the most prominent lumps and bumps. 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.
3. Don’t panic if you think you feel a lump. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign (not cancer).