How To Do A Self Breast Exam
Knowing your body is essential to a healthy life. Certain habits can increase your stamina, your quality of life, your attitude, your sex life and so on. But more than that, it can also save your life. With breast cancer being a major concern for women, and October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Karaz’s Mira takes a minute to give you the basics you need to know what to look for, and how to look for it, and make sure you’re on top of your body all the time.
Johns Hopkins Medical Centre carried out a research that found that forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by self-examination. They recommend that it should be done at least once a month; therefore, giving yourself a breast exam regularly should be adapted as one of your healthy routines.
You will be able to detect any changes at an early stage which can be life saving.
What to look for during a breast exam
- Lumps, hard knots or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
- Swelling, redness or darkening of the breast
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Dimpling or puckering of the skin
- Itchiness, scales or rash on the nipple
- Pulling in or inversion of your nipple
- Nipple discharge
- Persistent Pain
After you have known what to look for during for your self-breast exam, then the next step would be to know how to perform it effectively.
How to perform a Breast Self-Exam
1. Mirror Test
While undressed, visually examine your breasts in a large mirror with your arms on your sides. Then raise your arms above your head and look for any changes on your breasts size, shape or position. Inspect your skin and your nipples as well.
Next, place your arms on your hips and clinch firmly in order to flex your chest muscles. Note that it’s common if your left and right breasts are not the same size.
2. Shower Test
While in the shower, move your fingers around your entire breasts with a circular motion from the outside to the centre, include the armpit area. Look out for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot.
3. Lying Down Test
The benefit of doing self-examination when lying down is because the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest. Ensure that you’ve placed a pillow under your right shoulder with your right arm overhead. Then use the pads of your fingers from your left hand, alternating light, medium, and firm pressure to move around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Also squeeze the nipple to check for discharge and lumps. Then repeat these steps for your left breast.
Alert your health care provider immediately if you notice any symptoms.