Along with yearly mammograms, CHI Franciscan Health would like to remind you to do monthly self-breast exams. Breast cancer is often detected by a woman herself. You know your body the best, which is why it essential to be aware of any changes. Here are some standard tips you can follow!
A breast self-exam is a check-up a woman does at home to look for changes or problems in the breast tissue. Many women feel that doing this is important to their health.
Self-examination of the breast; BSE; Breast cancer – BSE; Breast cancer screening – self exam
The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
Begin by lying on your back. It is easier to examine all breast tissue if you are lying down.
- Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast.
- Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area.
- Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
- Use one of the patterns shown in the diagram to make sure that you are covering all of the breast tissue.
Next, stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side.
- Look at your breasts directly and in the mirror. Look for changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel.
- Also note the shape and outline of each breast.
- Check to see if the nipple turns inward.
Do the same with your arms raised above your head.
Your goal is get used to the feel of your breasts. This will help you to find anything new or different. If you do, call your provider right away.
What is breast self-awareness?
Breast self-awareness focuses on having a sense of what is normal for your breasts so that you can tell if there are changes—even small changes—and report them to your ob-gyn or other health care professional.
Why is breast self-awareness important?
Breast cancer often is found by a woman herself. This happens in almost one half of all cases of breast cancer in women aged 50 years and older. In women younger than 50 years, more than 70% of cases of breast cancer are found by the women themselves.
More information can be found from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Not all expertst agree about the benefits of breast self-exams in finding breast cancer or saving lives. Talk to your health care provider about whether breast self-exams are right for you.