How To Perform A Breast Self - Exam
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Beginning from the age of 20 all women are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam once a month to check their breasts for any changes, such as thickenings or lumps. Any changes detected should be immediately reported to the healthcare provider because detecting breast cancer in early stages, improves chances for survival. However, breast self-exams do not replace clinical breast examination and mammography but only serve as additional method of breast cancer detection.

Breast self-exam can be performed in 3 ways:

1. In the shower. With your finger pads move around the whole breast in a circular motion moving from the outside to the center. Check the whole breast and the armpit of both breasts for thickening, lump or hardened knot. Raise one arm behind the head and with the finger pads of the other hand press gently into the breast. Following the up-and-down pattern move from the bra line to collarbone until you cover the whole breast.

2. In the mirror. With your arms at your sides visually inspect your breasts. Then raise the arms overhead. Look for any changes in the shape, dimpling or swelling of the skin as well as any nipples changes. Then put hands on hips and press to flex the chest muscles. Look for any changes, puckering or dimpling, especially on one side. Check the nipples for any discharge by pulling outward toward the end of the nipple.

3. Lying down. Place a folded towel or a pillow under the left shoulder and your left arm behind the head. With your right hand gently move the finger pads around the left breast in small circular motions. Check the whole breast and the armpit area with light and firm pressures. Squeeze the nipple and check for lumps and discharge. Gently press it inward – it should move easily. Repeat the same for your right breast.

Women who still menstruate should perform the self-exam when the breasts are least likely to be swollen or tender, that is a few days after the end of their period.

Women who do not menstruate any longer should pick a certain day, for example the first day of each month, to perform the self-exam.

Women who receive pharmacy drugs, especially hormones, should consult with their health care provider about when to perform a breast self-exam.

If you find a lump or notice any changes, make an appointment with your doctor straight away. And don’t panic, eight out of ten lumps turn out to be noncancerous.


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