Perform a breast self-exams at least once a month. Yikes! I definitely haven’t been doing that. To be honest, it kind of intimidates me. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be looking for.
“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” ~ Johns Hopkins Medical Center
How do you do a monthly exam? I needed directions. A quick Google search took me to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and they had a step-by-step guide!
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
Clinical Breast exams are an important part of early detection. Most often lumps are discovered by the self-exam, but sometimes professionals are able to locate suspicious areas.
- Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years.
- Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.
Because breast cancer and cancer run on both sides of my family, I called and scheduled an appointment. Just to be on the safe side!