Breast cancer occurs when your breast cells develop uncontrollably and a malignant tumor forms. This particular type of cancer impacts many women although occasionally men too. Self-detection is crucial to stopping breast cancer from spreading. Completing regular Breast Self-Exams (BSE) can help you detect cancer before it spreads. Regular mammography is also key.
Schedule your breast self-exams. Mark on a calendar when you will do your BSEs. Aim to do a BSE once a month, preferably five to seven days after your period has ended. Doing regular BSEs will help you get to know the "normal" feel of your breasts. Hang a BSE reminder in your bathroom or bedroom so you do not forget. Also, consider starting a journal to record your observations. Plan to do your BSE in a room with good lighting.
Do a visual examination. Stand with your hands on your hips and look at the mirror. Look to see whether your breasts are their normal size, color, and shape. If you have any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor:
Noticeable swelling yet you are not menstruating at the moment
Dimpling, puckering, or bulging skin
Nipples that have moved
Redness, rashes, or tenderness
Raise your arms and repeat the previous visual examination. Look for discharge from your nipples. If you have discharge, check its color (yellow, clear) or consistency (bloody, milky). Be aware of nipple discharge that happens when you are not squeezing your nipple. Also tell a doctor if you have clear or bloody discharge or discharge only from one breast.
Touch your breasts. Lie down. Bring the pointer, middle, and ring fingers of your right hand together. Feel your left breast with the pads of your three middle fingers in a small, circular pattern. Your circles should have a circumference of 2 cm. Feel your breast from your collarbone down to your abdomen. Then beginning in your armpit area, move from the side to the middle. Repeat the process with your opposite hand to opposite breast.
To ensure you feel the entire area, use a pattern like vertical rows. Next, stand up or sit down and repeat these steps. Cover your breast again. Many women prefer to do this last step in the shower. Feel for lumps or any other changes. You should report any detectable lumps to your doctor.You should cover your breast with light, medium, and firm pressure in each circle. In other words, do a circle with light pressure and then repeat the same area with medium and firm pressure. You need to apply light pressure to notice tissue nearest to the skin's surface. Medium pressure allows you to feel more deeply and the firmest pressure helps you to reach deep tissue near your ribs.
Be aware of the controversy. Some studies show no increased detection of cancer from self-exams, but instead increased worry and biopsies. Talk with your doctor about BSEs — she may recommend you simply become familiar with your breasts so that if changes occur you will know.
Realize the importance of risk factors. Early detection of breast cancer is vital. If you possess any high risk factors, be sure to perform regular BSEs. Seek a mammogram if you feel any lumps or are high risk and over age forty.