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Breast self examination

Overview of breast self examination
Performing Breast Self-Exams
Areas to Examine with Care
Is Breast Self-Examination Necessary?

Overview of breast self examination

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Breast self-examination helps a woman to know if her breasts are normal and also find out early if there are any abnormalities. This involves looking and feeling at the breasts using pads or fingers. It does not take more than 15–20 minutes.

It is essential for the women to practice this every month and also get mammograms and clinical breast exams done at the appropriate age. Breast self-examination should never be substituted for clinical screening tests.

Breast self-examination has lead to the diagnosis of breast cancer at less advanced and more treatable stages.


Performing Breast Self examination

Women who are more than 20 years of age should regularly examine their breasts. This should be performed after the menstrual period has ended and if the woman is not menstruating preferably on the same day every month.

Performing breast self-examination involves the following steps.

1. Stand with shoulder straight and arms on the hips in front of the mirror. Check for usual size, shape and color. The following changes should be observed.
  • Dimpling or bulging of the breasts
  • Inverted nipple
  • Redness, soreness, rash or swelling

Additionally, these changes should be checked for with the arms placed at the sides, arms over the head and also bending forward. The pectoral muscles or the anterior chest muscles are contracted in these positions. If there is a growing as tumor, it affects the ligaments and hence dimpling of the skin may appear.

2. Check for nipple discharge by squeezing. The discharge could be milky, yellow fluid or blood.

3. Now lie down and examine the breast as follows.

  • Keep a pillow under the right shoulder and put the right hand under the head.
  • Check using first few fingers of the left hand or using pads.
  • Feel the breasts with the fingers by moving systematically using circular motions from the nipple to the outer margins.
  • Examine keeping the fingers flat, and then increase pressure so that the deeper tissue can be felt.
  • Repeat the above steps for the left breast using the right hand.

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Areas to Examine with Care

The entire breast should be examined every month.

The areas that need special attention while examining are:

  • Outer side: Armpit to the collar bone and below the breast.
  • Middle part: The breast itself
  • Inner side: The nipple area


Is Breast Self-Examination Necessary?

Self-examination of the breasts is absolutely necessary, as it is useful to detect any breast lumps. If the lumps are cancerous, then detection is early and hence, there is a chance of high cure rate.

Reporting to a doctor becomes necessary when a lump is suspected.

The best part of breast self-examination technique is that it involves no expenditure and has absolutely no side-effects.

Also read:

Breast cancer

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated
: October 02, 2012

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