Monthly breast self-examination is important as the woman gets to know her own body and will be able to tell if something is different.
It should be done once a month, for those women still having a period do the examination about seven to ten days after your period since at that time there will likely be fewer cycle-related changes in the breast. Women who are postmenopausal can do the exam at any time of the month, as long it is around the same time each month. Set a reminder on your phone to remember.
- Stand in front of a mirror in a well-lighted room with your upper clothing and bra removed.
- Stand with your hands behind your head.
- Next place your hands on your hips and lean forward then slowly turn from side to side from other angles to better observe your breasts.
- Look at your both breasts and note any difference between them.
- Look for lumps, dimpling (orange skin look), scaling, pushed in nipples, bulging, redness, discharge or liquid draining from your breasts.
- Use three middle fingers to feel your breasts.
- While lying down, with a pillow propping up your head and your arm resting behind it, with the opposite hand, take the three fingers to press down around the breast using circular motions (bicycle wheel), top to bottom movement or side to side motion.
- Using three fingers, rather than just one, keeps you from mistaking normal breast tissue for lumps. Increase the pressure you use with each pass around the breasts to ensure you are not just feeling superficial tissue.
- Some women prefer to examine the breasts while they are taking a shower as it is easier to feel the breasts when it is wet.
- Check the area under your arm to feel for any swelling in the lymph nodes, it may feel like a pea, bean or a marble or a nut.
- Move to the opposite breast.
- WHAT NEXT?
- Stay calm, most lumps are benign or not cancerous.
- Remember, breast self-examinations do not replace getting a mammogram.
- Should you see or feel anything abnormal, please make an appointment to see your doctor.