What is a breast self examination :
A breast self-exam is a check-up a woman does at home to look for changes or problems in the breast tissue. Many women feel that doing this is important to their health
It is a step-by-step approach to examining (observing) and feeling the breasts. Others, however, prefer random checks and general awareness, such as checking while in the shower, getting up in the morning or going to bed at night – a less systematic approach.
The aim of a monthly breast self-exam is to report any detected changes to a health care professional immediately.
Best time to do a self-breast exam :
Best time is about 3 – 5 days after your period starts. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
Benefits of BSE :
BSE is a useful and essential screening strategy, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor and mammography. About 20% of the time, breast cancers are found by physical examination rather than by mammography. Dr. Jyoti & Dr. Sonali recommend that all women routinely perform breast self-exams as part of their overall breast cancer screening strategy.
Breast changes to look out for :
See your GP if you notice any of the following changes:
- a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast, especially when you move your arm or lift your breast
- a change in the look or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling
- any discomfort or pain in one breast, particularly if it’s a new pain and doesn’t go away
- a new lump, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side
- nipple discharge that’s not milky
- bleeding from your nipple
- a moist, red area on your nipple that doesn’t heal easily
- any change in nipple position, such as your nipple being pulled in or pointing differently
- a rash on or around your nip
How to examine :
|Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.Here’s what you should look for:|
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
- Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.Step 3: While you’re at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.