Note: We are not Doctors, These Tips are Provided as a Convenience, Not as Medical Advice
Breast cancer affects many women every year. At one time or another we all know someone or know of someone who is fighting this disease. Unfortunately, many of us are not aware that the earlier you detect breast cancer the better chances we have of fighting it. Let's make it a priority to self exam in order to detect any changes in the breast, but this shouldn't take the place of a doctor's diagnosis. Every woman young and older should perform a self breast exam monthly about 5 days after her period around the same time each month in order to detect any changes that may occur. This also helps us as women become familiar with our breast and notice any changes quicker. Early detection of lumps may help save your breast by avoiding a mastectomy and may reduce the need for chemotherapy.
Changes in the breast may also occur as discharges. If you notice any discharges coming from your breast please consult your doctor as soon as possible.
It is important to know that a mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer. The American Cancer Association recommends that women 40 yrs old and older get a mammogram every year.
When to Perform Self Breast Exam
For Menstruating Women it is important for them to perform a breast self exam about 5 - 7 days after their period. The reason for this is because during your period there are hormonal changes that your body goes through which may cause the breast to feel lumpier or swollen. Usually when your period is over your breast tend to go back to normal feeling less lumpy and swollen.
For Women going Through Menopause it is very important for them to set a specific day each month to perform a breast self exam. If possible this day should be the same day every month.
For Women Taking Birth Control/Contraceptives they should do their breast self exam on the first day starting the new package of pills.
As women these are the Warning Signs to Watch For:
- Look for lumps or hard knots in the breast or armpit area
- Look for any changes in the size or shape of your breast
- Keep a look out for thickening or swelling of your breast
- Dimpling, puckering or any indentations in the breast
- Look for redness, scaling of the nipple or breast skin
- Look for any nipple discharge other than breast milk. Especially if the discharge is bloody, clear and sticky, dark or happens without you squeezing the breast or nipple
- Look to see if the nipple feels tender or painful
- Look for retraction of the nipple (turning or drawing inward) or if the nipple begins to point in a new direction
**Please see your physician if you notice any of the above signs or any breast changes that may be concerning to you. Also, please remember that in most of the cases breast lumps and changes are not due to breast cancer. Please don't let your fear of breast cancer keep you from seeing your physician when breast changes or lumps are found. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Quick how to on Breast Self Exam:
Monthly Breast Self Exam How to:
(This breast self exam is not a substitute for regular breast examinations performed by a qualified physician.)
Breast Self - Exam Method
Use the following method to help you during your breast self exam:
Keeping your fingers flat, press gently in small circles and work clockwise around the breast/armpit area checking all around the breast/armpit including the nipple area. Keep a look out for lumps or thickening that differs from your last breast self exam. Squeeze the nipple between your thumb and index finger. If you see any discharge other than breast milk, please call your doctor as soon as possible.
Different ways to perform your Breast Self Exam:
You can do your breast self exam while standing in the shower. Raise one hand and using the opposite hand examine the breast area, armpit area and chest by gently feeling for lumps, thickening or any differences from your last exam. Repeat this on the other side as well.
The Breast self exam can also be performed while lying down. Take a pillow and put it under one shoulder and lift that arm behind your head. Using the opposite hand please examine the breast area, armpit area and chest by gently feeling for lumps, thickening or any differences from your last exam. Repeat this on the other side as well.
Before a Mirror
Another way to do your Breast Self Exam would be to stand before a mirror. With arms at side, overhead, on hips and while bending forward, look for any changes in size, shape and contour of each breast. Look for puckering, dimpling or changes in skin texture.
Make sure to perform your Breast Self Exam each month. Remember that by doing this you can make sure that your breast stays healthy. Please spread the word on breast self exam and the fight against breast cancer. Tell all the special women around you how important it is to stay alert.