Why should you do breast self examinations?
No one knows your body as well as you do, so you are the best person to detect any changes in your breast tissue. It is important to get to know your own body and what is normal and abnormal. Breast self-examinations enable you to take responsibility for your own health. Doing regular monthly checks is important for detecting any changes in breast tissue at an early stage. Detecting changes early is critical in treating breast cancer.
When doing breast-self examinations for the first time you will notice your breasts may feel lumpy. In most cases what you are feeling is the glandular tissue including milk glands and lymphatic glands. The idea of breast self-examination is to learn about your lumps and bumps and what is normal for you. Then you will be able to notice any change. Self-examination of the breasts is very simply and easy to do.
How to do breast self examinations
The best place to do self-breast examinations is in the shower or bath,
then later lying down, especially for women with larger breasts.
You use your hand, using the flat part of the fingers together.
First do a visual check
Step 1: Stand naked in front of a well lit mirror with your arms at your side. Look at the skin texture, the nipple and the size and shape of your breasts. Make sure your breasts are evenly shaped and there is no visible distortion or swelling. If there is any swelling, redness, or soreness, bulging of the skin or if the nipple has changed position see a doctor.
Step 2: Now raise your arms and press the palms of your hands together. This flexes your chest muscles and moves your breasts. Lean forward if you have larger breasts. Notice the movement and look for the same changes as step 1.
Now for the physical check
Step 3: In the bath or shower when your skin is wet and soapy lift your left arm above your head and use your right hand to examine (see picture above), starting from just under your armpit. It is important to cover all your breast tissue from the collar bone to the upper abdomen. Move vertically from top to bottom moving across the breast towards the centre of your chest bone like the picture below. Make sure you cover the whole breast. Then repeat on the other breast, right arm above head and use left hand.
Step 4: Lying down. It is particularly important for women with larger breasts to do this both in the shower and lying down as it allows you to reach the deeper parts of the breast. Place a pillow under your right side then place your right hand under your head and use your left hand to examine your right breast. Moving in the same direction as you did when in the shower. Then change sides.
Note – When doing a physical examination of the breasts it is important to cover the area from the collar bone to the upper abdomen, which is a slightly larger area than indicated on the diagram above.
What you are looking for
Any change in the shape or size, in the direction of the nipple, in the texture of the skin.
An area that feels different to the rest.
Dimpling, puckering or flattening of the skin.
Persistent patches of redness or inflammation.
Persistent sores or ulceration, especially around the nipple.
Sudden prominent blood vessels.
Discharge from the nipple (and you are not breast feeding)
Swelling of the upper arm or lumps in the armpit.
Any changes you notice from the normal.
Most breast lumps are benign (not cancerous), however they still need to be checked by a doctor. If there are any abnormalities or you are not sure about something, seek professional medical advice. Do not be put off if you feel something is wrong. Always seek a second opinion if you are not happy with your doctor’s response.
I have found a couple of websites about breast self examination that you may find useful for additional information.
www.breastselfexam.ca/ This one has a video and a diagram of the breasts, showing the different breast tissues.
www.breastcancer.org - If you use your search engine you will probably be able to find more sites on breast self examination.
Article by Berris Burgoyne ©
I am passionate about helping people improve their health and well-being.
I believe that the human spirit has the potent ability to bring about healing when it is given the necessary support to do so.
This support can be achieved in a number of ways including dietary and lifestyle adjustments and natural medicines.
These address any imbalances, and by adopting healthy habits and attitudes that nourish your spiritual, emotional and physical well-being you can achieve optimal health.