All adult women should do a breast examination regularly as it is very important in early detection of breast cancer. It helps you to get familiar with the way your breasts look and feel, so that when you notice any changes you can consult your doctor for further diagnosis.
Breast cancer, when detected at an early stage, can be cured easily and hence you should make it a point to do this self-examination regularly. Breast examinations can be easily done in the comfort of your home, without having to go anywhere and suffer embarrassment. You can inspect your breasts yourself using the techniques given here.
They are very simple to perform, and all you need is a mirror, your bathroom and a bed to lie down on. These techniques and the process of breast examination are explained here in very simple terms. Learn them, but do consult with your doctor once whether you are performing them correctly.
How To Perform A Breast-Examination
Examine Regularly Every Month
It’s important to set a particular date and stick to the schedule of breast examination. Pre-menopausal women should examine their breasts only after a few days of the end of the menstrual period.
The hormone levels are quite stable at this time and your breasts are not too tender. Post-menopausal women should just set a convenient date every month and conduct the breast examination regularly on this date every month.
Observe The Shape And Size For Changes
Stand in front of a mirror in your bathroom in such a way that you can observe both the breasts clearly. With your hands on your hips, examine the shape and size of your breasts. Do you notice any changes in the skin color, appearance of moles and the nipples? They should look healthy and similar to the way they were in the previous breast examination.
Observe The Movement And Appearance
This breast examination should also be done in front of the mirror. Now, you should raise both arms over your head, observing the movement of the breasts. Do they move similarly and are there any differences. Make a mental note of the appearance.
Check for symmetry between the breasts, and see if there are any dimples or bumps in the nipples and the areolas. Also check for any swellings in your armpits which could be due to enlarged lymph nodes, and require medical attention if present.
Stand And Feel For Lumps
This is a manual examination which you should do in the shower on a wet skin. You should raise your left arm up and feel your left breast with your right hand fingers. Move your hand from top to bottom and across, right until your armpits. A circular motion will help detect changes in size or texture. Repeat this technique for the right side to complete this step of breast examination.
Check For Discharge
For this step in breast examination, lower both the arms and squeeze the nipples one by one very gently, pulling them forward. Observe if they go back in the natural position easily.
If it retracts, it could be a sign of concern. Check whether there is any fluid leakage from the nipples. Normally, there should not be any discharge unless you happen to be pregnant.
Lie Down And Check For Changes
You need to place a pillow on your bed and lie down in such a way that your head and shoulders are on the pillow so that they get raised a bit. Now, take your left hand behind your back, under your head. With the right hand, you need to feel your left breast as well as the underarm to check for any changes since the last breast examination. Repeat this process for the other side as well.