Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. It can’t be prevented but an early detection can make a huge difference.
Did you know that women are encouraged to perform breast self-examinations (BSE) once a month? A breast self-examination typically uses the hand to inspect for breast abnormalities. It’s always good to be aware as any women can have breast cancer regardless of their family history or lifestyle.
Johns Hopkins Medican centre states: “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
Typically, when you perform the breast self-exam, you have to examine the areas of the breast and armpit.
When inspecting these areas you want to look for any abnormalities such as lumps, swelling in any areas, unnatural discharge from the breast, rashes, drastic change in shape or size and unusual pain that you feel might not be related to menstruation.
There are a few ways one can perform BSE. Here are some tips according to National Breast Foundation, Inc.
IN THE SHOWER
Doing a breast self-examination in the shower is easy for some as it is easier to inspect the skin when it is slippery. Using the pads of your fingers, move them around your entire breast in a circular pattern from the outside to the centre. Then check the armpit area too. If you notice any changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention.
IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR
Examining your breasts in front of the mirror allows you to visually see if there are any changes. Stand in front of the mirror with your arms by your side and look if there is any changes in shape, swelling or hardening in any area. Look for any fluid coming out of both nipples. Raise your arms and look again if there are any changes.
When you lie down, the breast tissue spreads evenly along the chest. What you need to do is place a pillow under you right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Take your left hand and move the pads of your fingers around the right breast gently in circular motion, covering the entire breast area and armpit. Then using medium but firm pressure, squeeze the nipple to check if any fluid comes out. Repeat the same steps for the left breast.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A LUMP
Firstly, don’t panic. It’s common for women to have lumps or have lumpy areas and most lumps turn out to be benign, or in other words, not cancerous. The causes of these lumps could be due to hormonal changes. However, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your doctor and get the answers that you want. Typically at an appointment to evaluate the breast lump, the doctor will perform an ultrasound to evaluate the lump.
Source: National Breast Foundation