How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam
Breast self-exams are an essential part of maintaining breast health and to detect. They allow individuals to detect changes in their breast tissue early, which can be crucial in the early detection of breast cancer. Performing a breast self-exam is a simple yet effective way to monitor your breast health regularly.
Choose the Right Time
Perform your breast self-exam at the same time each month. Ideally, it’s best to do it three to five days after your menstrual period ends, when breasts are less likely to be tender or swollen.
Find a Comfortable Location
Choose a room where you can comfortably stand or sit in front of a mirror. Having a mirror helps you observe changes in your breast shape and size.
Begin by visually inspecting your breasts in the mirror. Check for any changes in size, shape, or contour. Look for dimpling, puckering, or skin changes. Pay attention to your nipples too to see if they’re inverted or have any discharge.
Raise Your Arms
Raise your arms above your head and observe your breasts from different angles. This can help you notice any changes that may not be apparent when your arms are down.
Lie down flat on your back with a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. This position spreads out the breast tissue, making it easier to examine.
Use Your Fingers
With your three middle fingers on your left hand, examine your right breast. Using light, medium, and firm pressure, move your fingers in small circular motions from the outside in, covering the entire breast. Be sure to follow a systematic pattern to ensure you cover the entire area.
Check for Lumps
Pay close attention to any lumps, hard knots, or thickened areas. Note their size, location, and texture. Don’t forget to check the area under your armpit as well.
Repeat for the Other Breast
Switch to your left breast and repeat the same process, using your right hand and following the same systematic pattern.
Examine Your Nipples
Gently squeeze each nipple to check for any unusual discharge. It’s normal for some clear or milky fluid to come out, but if you notice any bloody or greenish discharge, consult a healthcare professional.
Finally, sit up and repeat the visual inspection of both breasts in the mirror. Look for any changes in appearance or symmetry between the two breasts.
If you notice any unusual changes during your breast self-exam, such as new lumps, changes in skin texture, or nipple discharge, contact your healthcare provider promptly for a professional evaluation.
Performing a monthly breast self-exam is a proactive step towards maintaining your breast health. Early detection of breast changes can be a critical factor in the successful treatment of breast conditions, including breast cancer. Remember that while self-exams are an important tool, they are not a substitute for regular mammograms and clinical breast exams. Combining all these methods of breast health monitoring can provide the best chance of early detection and successful treatment if needed.
For more information, please contact:
Discipline: Radiation Oncologist
Hospital: Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital
Telephone: +27 11 854 1899