How to Prevent Breast Cancer. Breast Self-examination

Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.

Breast Self-Exam

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy diagnosed in women. The success of treatment largely depends on the size of the tumor and how early it was found. Breast self-examination is a good method to detect a tumor at the earliest possible stage and save your life.

Breast Cancer Facts

  • Not all tumors are cancerous. A breast lump can be a sign of a breast cyst or fibroadenoma (benign breast disease). Nevertheless, these conditions require careful monitoring to control their development.
  • If your mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother had breast cancer, your own risk is significantly increased. In this case, doctors suggest doing screening and genetic testing for cancer susceptibility.
  • Breast cancer occurs not only in women but also in men.
  • Breast cancer specialists claim that changes to the appearance of the skin are not common in advanced-stage cancer. Also, it rarely causes bleeding. Therefore, it is important to regularly examine breasts for the presence of lumps

When to Do a Breast Self-Examination?

  • After 18 years
  •  Once every few months (at least twice a year)
  • In a quiet and private place
  • On days 5 or 6 of the cycle or immediately after the end of the period. In case of menopause, it should also be done regularly. It is recommended to pick a specific day of the month to pay special attention to yourself.
  • Other phases of the cycle are not suitable for this routine as the mammary glands become denser, complicating the detection of possible lumps

How to Perform a Breast Self-Examination?

How to Perform a Breast Self-Examination?

Visual Inspection

  • stand in front of a mirror and raise your arms
  • examine the symmetry of your chest
  • check for changes in skin texture
  • check the condition of the skin in the areola and nipple area
  • focus on the armpits
  • do the same inspection with your hands on your hips

Palpation 

  • Breast examination is best done using the finger pads of the three middle fingers and flat palm. Some women prefer doing the examination in the shower so that their fingers can easily glide on the skin.
  • To examine the upper breast area, place your left arm behind your head and check your left breast with your right hand. With the pads of your three middle fingers, gently press the skin of your breast in small, circular motions, starting at the nipple. Do not forget to check the area around your armpits. Lymph nodes located in the armpit should not be enlarged. Examine the right breast in the same way.
  • The lower part of the breast is easier to examine while lying down. This position flattens the breast and allows you to roll the tissue between your fingers and ribs. You need to do the same self-exam as in a standing position. Explore your entire breast in a circular motion. Don't forget your armpit area as well. Use your right hand to examine your left breast and vice versa.

Finding a lump in your breast is normal. Over time, you will learn to distinguish unusual changes from a common lump. Press lightly on all areas of the breast. A healthy woman should feel a light pressure in the lower curve of each breast. If you aren't sure if you are performing your self-exam in the right way, consult a specialist.

Mistakes Made During Breast Self-Exams

  • do not put too much pressure on your breasts.
  • do not squeeze the breast tissue with fingers from both sides
  • do not squeeze nipples too tightly
  • do not pop pimples
  • large breasted women need a little more time for examination

Warning Signs

  • a change in the size or shape of the breast (symmetry is one of the most important factors)
  • dimples or bumps in breast tissue
  • change in skin color, such as redness
  • distortion of the breast skin - puckering, redness, retraction
  • lumps and thickened areas in the breasts
  • nipple displacement 
  • inverted nipples
  • changes in the contour of the areola
  • dilated breast veins
  • swollen lymph nodes in the armpit
  • dimpling of the skin when raising the arm
  • soreness

If you develop any of these signs, you should see a doctor. A successful recovery process requires high-quality treatment in a timely manner.

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