How to performer a self-breast examFreyja
February 27, 2023
Knowing how to do a self breast exam is a good way to check and look for any changes in your breasts, and can help you to spot the easy signs of breast cancer. Self-breast exams combined with screening can increase the chances of breast cancer being treated more successfully if it is caught earlier. However, do not overestimate the benefits of a self-exam. You still need to regularly go to your doctor for through screening.
So, what is a self-breast exam?
Self-exams are important for the health of your breasts. However, this does not mean that they should replace doctors appointments for mammograms. You should still go to your doctor regularly! It's just a good way to become familiar with your own breasts so you understand what is normal and what may have changed. A self-breast exam is a couple of steps that you can take yourself to examine your breasts in order to check for any possible abnormalities. You should aim to do a self-breast exam once a month. Next time you are at your doctor you can ask them to walk you through how to do one. If you have a period then you should aim to check your breasts at a time when they are less tender.
- Look at your breasts in the mirror. Have your arms on your hips and your shoulders straight. Check the size of your breasts, shape and colour. With your fingers check the entire breast and armpit with a mixture of light to hard and medium pressure. Check both breasts feeling for any lump, thickening, knot or other changes. If you sense any changes that you are unsure about, address it with your doctor.
- Raise your arms above your head and look for the same changes. Check for any changes in colour, contour, swelling, dimpling or any nipple changes.
- You should also examine your breasts when lying down. When you lie down the breast tissue spreads out evenly. Using one of your arms move the pads of your fingers around the breast gently covering the entire breast and armpit . Use a mixture of light, medium and firm pressure. Then squeeze the nipple and check for discharge and lumps. Then repeat this on your other breast.
When should you contact your doctor:
- If you have any uncertainty at all contact your doctor.
- If you notice a hard lump or knot near your underarm
- Changes in the way the breasts feel such as thickening or fullness that is different from the rest of the tissue.
- Dimples, bulges, ridges, puckers
- Changes in nipple becoming pushed in instead of out.
- Itching, sores or rashes
- Discharge from the nipple (e.g. blood or puss)
- Redness, swelling, pain or warmth
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