Breast cancer is a formidable adversary, affecting millions of individuals and families every year. It doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, or background, making it imperative that we all come together to increase awareness and understanding of this illness.
A breast self-examination is an inspection of your breasts that you do on your own and involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes. Many breast problems are first discovered by women themselves, often by chance. Breast lumps can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
Not all medical organizations recommend routine breast self-exams as a part of breast cancer screening. Still, most doctors believe that there is value in women being familiar with their own breasts, so they understand what’s normal and promptly talk to your doctor about any changes.
Here’s how to perform a monthly self-breast exam in the comfort of your own home.
IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR
With your arms at your sides, then raised above your head, look carefully for changes in size, shape, and contour of each breast. Look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in skin texture.
Gently squeeze both nipples and look for discharge.
LYING DOWN IN BED
Place a towel or pillow under your right shoulder and your right hand behind your head. Examine your right breast with your left hand.
Repeat, this time placing a towel or pillow under your left shoulder and your left hand behind your head. Examine your left breast with your right hand.
UP AND DOWN / CIRCLES AND WEDGES
Finger flat, press gently in small circles, staring at the outermost top edge of your right breast and spiralling in toward the nipple. Examine every part of the breast. Repeat with the left breast.
With your arm resting on a firm surface, use the same circular motion to examine the underarm area. This is breast tissue, too.