• Breast Self-Examination as Prevention to Breast Cancer

    Breast Self-Examination as Prevention to Breast Cancer

    Breast Self-Examination as Prevention to Breast Cancer

    Why should you examine your breasts monthly?

    Most breast cancer is first discovered by women themselves. Since breast cancer found early and treated promptly has an excellent chance of cure, learning to examine your breast properly can help save your life. Use the simple 3-step self-examination (BSE) procedure described below:

    When to examine your breasts?

    Examine your breast at the same time every month about one week after your period, when your breasts are usually not tender or swollen. After menopause, check your breasts on the first day of each month. After a hysterectomy, consult with your doctor or clinic for the appropriate time of the month to check your breasts. Doing a monthly self-exam will give you peace of mind, and seeing your doctor once a year will reassure you there is nothing wrong. The simple 3-step procedure could save your life by finding breast cancer early when it is most curable. For each procedure, think of your breast as an imaginary clock face, begin at the outermost top of your right breast for 12 o’clock, and then move to 1 o’clock and so on round the circle back to 12 o’clock.

    In the shower

    Examine your breast during a shower or bath as the hand glides easily over wet skin. With fingers flat, move the hand gently over every part of each breast. Use your right hand to examine the left breast and the left hand to examine the right breast. Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening.

    In front of the mirror

    Inspect your breasts with arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in contour of each breast such as swelling, dimpling, or change in the nipple.

    Lying down on your back

    To examine your right breast, put a pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Place your right hand under your head. This distributes breast tissue more evenly on the chest. With the left hand, fingers flat press gently in circular motions around an imaginary clock face. A ridge of firm tissue in the lower curve of each breast is normal. Then move in an inch, towards the nipple and keep circling to examine every part of your breasts, including the nipple. This requires at least three more circles. Now, slowly repeat the procedure on your left breast with a pillow under your left shoulder and your left hand under your head. Your lymph glands are located in this area and they may become swollen if you are sick. If you feel a small lump that moves freely, check it daily for a few days. Call the doctor if it doesn’t go away.

    What to do if you find a lump or thickening

    If a lump, dimple or discharge is discovered during a self-exam, it is important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Don’t be frightened. Most breast lumps or changes are not cancerous, but only your doctor can make the diagnosis. Remember however that your monthly breast exam is not a substitute for an examination by a medical professional.

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