The key to detecting breast cancer early is to perform a monthly self breast exam, have regular clinical breast examinations by a trained medical professional and schedule a yearly mammogram.
A self breast exam takes only about 10 minutes to perform. When doing a self breast exam, make sure you check your breasts a few days after your period when your breasts are less tender. If you are no longer menstruating, simply select a regular date for your monthly self breast exam.
Every person should know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer and any time an abnormality is discovered, it should be investigated by a healthcare professional.
Most people who have breast cancer symptoms and signs will initially notice only one or two. The presence of these symptoms and signs does not automatically mean that you have breast cancer.
By performing monthly self breast exams, you will be able to more easily identify any changes in your breast. Be sure to talk to your healthcare professional if you notice anything unusual when performing a self breast exam.
Self Breast Exam: Step 1
Start with your hands down at your sides. Look at both of your breasts to note any changes in size or shape. Also, check the color and texture of your skin. Repeat these steps with your arms in the air.
Then repeat the steps while pushing down on your hips to tighten your chest muscles. Finally, examine your breasts while bending at your waist with your hands on your hips. This will allow you to see any dimpling of the skin.
Self Breast Exam: Step 2
Place a pillow under your right shoulder and raise your right arm above or behind your head. Carefully inspect your right breast with the pads of the three middle fingers on your left hand, using a small circular motion in an up-and-down pattern. Apply different amounts of pressure (light, medium and firm) to each area of the breast.
Make sure to check all areas where breast tissue may be found – from the armpit to the breastbone and from the collar bone to the bra line. Make sure you do not lift your fingers away from the skin at any time during the exercise. When you’ve finished, lower your right arm and examine your right armpit. Repeat these steps on the left breast using your right hand.
This is also a good exam to do while bathing or showering.