Self Breast Exams Could Save Your Life
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
An important part in being aware of your breast health is making sure that you are performing breast self-examinations monthly. While you’re in the shower or before bed, a few simple steps can be taken to check for breast abnormalities and to become familiar with your breasts so you can recognize breast problems should they occur. Your self-exam should occur a few days after your menstrual cycle ends to assure the breasts are not tender or swollen.
Self Breast Exam 101
Stand in front of a mirror without any clothing. Right before or after a shower may be a good time. Look for any changes, but particularly skin puckering, dimpling or nipple discharge. Check the shape and contour of your breasts in two different positions noting any changes in shape of the breast or nipple. Gently squeeze each nipple and look for discharge. Lie down with one arm over your head and use the pads of your fingers to check the breast of the raised arm and surrounding area firmly and thoroughly. Lying down helps to spread the breast tissue evenly over your chest. You should check for unusual lumps under the skin using a pattern of up-and-down lines. Make sure you check the entire breast area, under arms and just above the collarbone.
Abnormal Breast Changes: What to Look For
When performing a self-examination, be sure to look out for the following changes in your breast:
1. Lumps in the breast.
2. Non-milk discharge.
3.Swelling or Skin irritation.
4.Dimpling or Nipple irregularities.
The earliest sign of breast cancer is a single painless firm to hard lump. The edges of the lump are not sharp and stretch out gradually into the surrounding tissue if felt between the fingers. Erosion of the nipple or discharge may indicate an early cancer. Late signs of cancer include an inability to move the lump which appears attached to the skin or to the deeper breast tissue. There may be puckering of the skin above the cancer or retraction of the nipple. Eventually there will be breast enlargement, hardness, inflammation and pain. Almost half of breast cancers begin in the nipple or outer and upper quarter of the breast. The earlier a cancer of the breast is discovered, the better the chances of a complete recovery.
If suspicious changes or abnormalities are found, immediately contact your doctor to discuss further evaluation.
REMEMBER, BREAST SELF EXAMINATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR ROUTINE THERMOGRAMS, MAMMOGRAMS OR REGULAR BREAST EXAMS BY A DOCTOR.
Thermography is an FDA registered tool for breast screening that is painless and radiation free. If you'd like more information regarding the use of Thermography please contact us at (208) 608.8440 or visit us at our website IdahoBreastHealth.com