Breast Self-Exams: How, Why and When

breast exam

Many people spend ample time in front of the mirror checking out their abs and poking at this and that. What if you spent a fraction of that time checking out your breasts? You can perform a breast self-exam in less time than it takes you to make and butter a piece of toast. A few minutes spent checking out your breasts once a month might be the thing that alerts you to a problem.
Performing regular self-examinations will make you aware of subtle changes in breast tissue that could indicate a need for medical examination. That, coupled with getting a mammogram when your doctor recommends it, can boost your chances of early detection and survival.

There are 3 Quick and Easy Steps to Breast Self-Examinations

1) Look at your bare breasts in a mirror.

Raise your arms overhead and notice if there are any dimples or swelling. Look to see if your nipples have changed.
Then, put your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Notice if there is any dimpling when you do this, especially if it is on one side only.

2) Hop in the shower.

Put one hand behind your head. In a circular motion with the opposite hand, move your fingers around your breast and armpit. Start on the outside of your breast and move inward feeling for any lumps or hard spots. Repeat on the other side.

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3) While lying down, place a pillow under one of your shoulders.

Place your pillow-side arm under your head. Move your fingers around your breast and armpit in a circular motion like you did in the shower to feel if there are any lumps or thickened spots. Squeeze the nipple to see if there is any discharge. Switch sides.

The benefit of doing breast self-exams once a month is that you will literally be in-touch with your body and be able to note changes quickly that might warrant follow-up at your doctor’s office. In addition, check out the American Cancer Society Recommendations for Early Detection of Breast Cancer in order to find out when you might want to start getting regular mammograms and clinical screening. The American Cancer Society notes that breast cancer that is found early and has not spread is easier to treat than breast cancer that goes undetected for longer periods of time.

Take a few minutes and check ‘em out, ladies. It can’t hurt.


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