How To Check Yourself For Breast Cancer

October 24, 2023

Medical professionals encourage adult women to examine their breasts at least once a month. Breast self-exams are a way to check for changes in the breast tissue. These screenings involve checking the breasts and armpits for lumps, thickening, or any hardened mass. It's beneficial to be familiar with the look and feel of your breasts, so you can notice any changes right away. Regular screenings at home are critical because women discovered many diagnosed cases of breast cancer during self-examination. The appearance of lumps or thickening of breast tissue may indicate an illness like cancer. Regular examination of the breasts can reveal cancerous tumors in early stages when they're more treatable. Many symptoms of breast cancer are not noticeable, so early detection is crucial when screening for breast cancer. Learn how to conduct a self-examination now.

Breast Self-Exam In The Shower

Performing a breast self-exam in the shower is effective because wet, slippery hands glide over the skin more easily. You can use a circular motion or up and down movements to check for lumps or any other changes in your breast tissue. It's important to cover the entire area, so make sure your movements are small and thorough. Use your fingertips to explore the breasts and surrounding areas like the armpits. Raising an arm behind your head will spread the breast tissue for better coverage. Use the finger pads of your free arm to apply pressure while moving around the breast. You can start from the outside and move towards the center or begin at the nipple and move towards the armpit. Check the entire area from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen. Apply gentle pressure to the shallow areas, intermediate to the middle of the breast, and firm for areas with deep tissue. Also, check your nipple areas for lumps or discharge. Use your thumb and forefinger to pull the nipple outward and look for any discharge of fluid.

Keep reading to learn about another method of breast self-examination.

Breast Self-Exam In Front Of A Mirror

A breast self-exam in front of a mirror gives you an opportunity to visually examine your breasts from different angles. View your breasts with your arms at your side, on your hips, or raised over your head. Assume different positions to view your breasts from every possible angle. Observe all parts of the breasts for any changes in shape or contour. Lift your breasts and look underneath them if you need to. You can view the outer portions of your breasts by gripping your hands behind your head and turning side to side. Make sure there's enough light in the room and flex your chest muscles when possible for maximum exposure. Once you're familiar with the look and feel of your breasts, it will be easier to recognize any changes. Changes you should look for during examination include any differences in size, shape, or position of your breasts. This includes any changes or distortion to the skin like dimpling, swelling, puckering, or blemishes. Check your nipples for changes in direction or any sign of peeling or sores.

Continue to learn about how to perform a breast self-exam when lying down.

Breast Self-Exam Lying Down

Doing a breast self-exam lying down is advantageous because the breast tissue spreads out across the chest and allows easier access to those hard to reach places. You will use your right arm to check your left breast and vice versa. Place a pillow or thick towel behind the shoulder area of the reclining side for support and a better view. Your first few fingers should always be kept together while you're performing breast self-exams. The movements should be made in small motions to assure coverage of all areas. The up and down motions should be made about an inch apart, while the circular motions should be about the size of a quarter. A popular technique begins at one point on the breast and circles all the way around until you arrive back at the same point. This method is helpful for covering every inch of the area to be screened. Don't forget to examine the places around and under your arms. Repeat for the other side and then squeeze the nipples to check for any discharge.

Keep reading to discover what to do in the event you find a lump.

What To Do If You Find A Lump

Don't become alarmed if you encounter a lump or lumpy area while doing a breast self-exam. It's entirely normal for some women to experience minor changes in breast tissue or noncancerous lumps. Most cases of lumps in the breast are found to be benign. Nevertheless, it's important to know what to do if you find a lump. Your healthcare provider should evaluate each occurrence. Some changes may be due to other things like your menstrual cycle, but any change that's out of the ordinary or new should be addressed as soon as possible. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice new breast changes such as a lump or thickening, discharge from the nipples, or any change in appearance, feel, size, or shape of the breasts or nipples.

Learn more about detecting breast cancer now.

Get A Mammogram And Other Exams

Lumps or changes in breast tissue caused by certain cancers may be detected by a physical examination before a mammogram. Conversely, some breast cancers are detectable by a mammogram before physical symptoms such as a lump appear or can be felt. This is why it's important to add self-exams to your screening process for breast cancer. Get a mammogram and other exams like an ultrasound to detect tumors in their early stages before they can be felt. Regular screening for breast cancer can start as early as forty years of age but should be performed every year starting at forty-five. Women should continue annual screenings until at least fifty-five. Women aged fifty-five and up can screen every two years instead of annually. A small percentage of women may need additional screening techniques such as MRIs because of factors like genetics. Consult with your doctor to discuss your family history and other factors that may affect your risk to determine the best screening method for you.

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