Regular self-exams should be a part of all adult women’s health routine.
Breast cancer is a major health concern for women, it is the most common cancer worldwide and 2nd most common cancer in India. It’s a good thing to look at the importance of a breast self-exam in helping women lower their odds of having breast cancer go undetected. Consult a Gynecologist Now!!!
Will it help me?
Over 80% of most breast problems are found through self-examination. A breast self-exam can’t detect the smallest lumps that a mammogram or other screening test can. Unlike other exams, a self-exam is:
- Easily done in the home
- Is free
- Enables a woman to understand what is normal for her breast and catch something that doesn’t feel or look right before a clinical breast exam or mammogram
All adult women should perform a self-exam at least once a month. Remember to perform breast self-exams once a month.
Remember, if you menstruate, do it two or three days after the end of your period, when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen. If you are not menstruating, due to menopause, surgical menopause, amenorrhea, or another cause, choose a day such as the first of the month, and perform breast self-examination each month on that day.
A typical exam has several steps (you can see illustrations and more detailed instructions here):
- Stand before the mirror. Inspect both breasts for anything unusual, such as discharge from the nipples, rash or puckering, dimpling, or scaling of the skin.
- Watch closely in the mirror; raise both arms over your head, stretching them up high. Examine both breasts and the underarm area.
- Next press hands firmly on the hips and bow slightly toward the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward.
- Raise your left arm. Use three or four fingers of your right hand to explore your left breast firmly, carefully and thoroughly feeling for any unusual lump or mass under the skin. Beginning at the outer edge, press the flat part of your fingers in small circles, moving the circles slowly around the breast. Pay attention to the tail of the breast (the area between the breast and armpit) and the armpit. Repeat this for the right breast using your left hand.
- Gently squeeze the nipple of your left breast and look for a discharge. Repeat this for your right breast. You should see your health care practitioner if you have any discharge during the month.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 lying flat on your back with your arm over your head and a pillow or folded towel under the shoulder of the breast that you are examining. This position flattens the breast tissue making it easier to examine. Use the same circular motion described above in step 4. Do this for left and right breast.
If you find anything suspicious, or have any questions, report it to your gynecologist immediately.