As we all know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month! Your best defense against breast cancer starts at home with a breast self-exam. There are lots of different things to look for when giving yourself an exam but never fear, everything you need to know is right here. So if you don’t know what to look for, keep on reading!
First, it’s important to do a visual exam on yourself to see if you can find any surface signs of breast cancer. This is just a quick glance over your breast and won't take very long at all. Here are some of the signs to look for.
- Inspect breasts with hands pressed down on your hips.
- Check to see if your nipples are inverted/turned in.
- Lift your breasts to see if the ridges on the bottom are symmetrical.
- When facing forward, check for dimpling, puckering, or changes in shape or size.
- Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together.
Next, you’re going to want to do the second part of the exam with your hands. You are going to be feeling for lumps and just generally unusual sensations. Follow the steps below for a step-by-step guide on how to use your hands while examining.
Choose a firm flat surface to lay down on. You won't want to lay on anything that is too soft or will make you sink too much as it could affect the outcome of your result. Laying down makes the breast tissue flat and easier to detect any abnormalities.
In The Shower
Doing a breast self-exam in the shower might seem a little weird but we promise it's not! It may be even easier to do the exam in the shower because the soap and water will help to glide your hands smoothly over your breasts.
1) Using the pads of your fingers, feel around your breast in circular motions.
2) Use different pressure levels. Some lumps are buried deep in the breast tissue and may be hard to feel using light pressure.
3) Use a pattern to make sure you are examining your entire breast. A good pattern to follow is that of a clock. Sectioning out your breast in this shape will help you to examine every part.
4) Take your time. Don’t rush this exam process. If you rush, you might miss a lump here or there that would have let you know something is wrong.
This isn't to scare you. This is to help raise awareness for breast cancer and to also help you learn how to do your own breast exam! If you are still unsure of how do do this exam on your own or don't feel confident that you can then no worries! At your next gynecologist appointment ask them if they can do a breast exam for you! It’s as simple as that.