Regularly examining your breasts is important and essential for the early detection of breast cancer, which can lead to successful tre...
Regularly examining your breasts is important and essential for the early detection of breast cancer, which can lead to successful treatment.
Not all cancers can be detected this way, but self-exams are a critical step that should be done monthly.
Familiarize yourself with how your breasts normally look and feel. The best time to examine yourself is a few days after your periods end, when your breasts are less likely to be tender or swollen.
Don't panic if you 'feel' a lump. The breast's upper and outter area and near the armpit are the areas to develop prominent lumps and bumps.
The lower part of your breast may feel sandy or pebbly, while the area under the nipple might feel grainy. What you have to check is that these areas do not feel unusual, 'rocky' perhaps.
Examining yourself in the shower is easier, as wet skin can be probed easily than dry skin.
Step 1Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders and back straight, and your arms on your hips. Observe that your breasts are their usual shape, size and colour. See that there is no distortion or swelling, and the breasts are evenly shaped.
Changes to look for include redness, swelling, puckering or the bulging or skin, and a nipple that is pushed inward instead of sticking out.
Step 2Raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes. See that there is no fluid coming out of the nipples, a watery, yellowish, milk substance or even blood.
Step 3Lie down and feel your breasts now. Use your right hand to feel your left breast, then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use your fingers in a smooth yet firm manner, keeping them flat and together.
Starting in a circular motion, cover your entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, the collarbone and the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Begin at the nipple, moving in larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers vertically, up and down, or in an in-and-out wedge.
Use light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath the nipple; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; and 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 ribcage.
Step 4Repeat Step 3 in a standing up or sitting down position, covering your entire breast with the same hand movements.
Not all lumps are cancerous, however, if you feel a lump or bump it is important to consult a doctor right away, who will then examine you further.
Spreading awareness and knowledge about self-exams is also crucial, and girls and women must be taught to be conscious about their bodies, and do regular breast self exams.