Breast cancer is one of the more curable forms of cancer because unlike the majority of chronic diseases, breast cancer is easier to diagnose during its early stages. Most women of a certain age incorporate regular mammograms and breast ultrasounds into their check-up routine. But another way for women to determine irregularities in the breast is through a breast self-exam (BSE).
What is a breast self-exam?
A breast self-exam is the physical act of examining one’s breasts on her own. This has been proven instrumental in keeping breast cancer at bay. In fact, 40% of breast cancer diagnoses were the result of women complaining of finding lumps in their breasts. Once they find suspicious lumps or growths in their breasts, they would inform their doctors who would then further evaluate their complaints.
Some argue that all BSE does is to cause panic and unnecessary biopsies. However, it is worth pointing out that a biopsy has to be ordered by a doctor. If the doctor did not see probable cause for a biopsy, then the sample tissue would not be taken in the first place.
What do you look for in a BSE?
In the simplest sense, you are looking for irregularities that would determine if your breasts may be harboring growths. A healthy pair of breasts are evenly sized with similar shape and coloring. There should be no distortion or visible swelling. Check for any lumps, swelling, or hardened knots in the breasts.
It would be helpful if you are familiar with the appearance of your breasts, so you should perform this procedure at least once every month. You can also keep a journal to track the changes of your breasts over time. Lastly, the breasts tend to increase in size when you are about to have your period. That being said, try to perform the procedure after you get your monthly menstrual period.
The following are red flags indicating the need for professional help:
- Redness, swelling, or rashes in the breast
- If your breasts are sore or painful to the touch
- If there is bulging, dimpling, puckering, or any uneven skin on the breast
- If there is any fluid coming out of the nipples, regardless of the color of the discharge (provided that you are not breastfeeding or lactating)
- If there are lumps and visible swelling
How do you perform a BSE?
A BSE is generally performed in three ways: in the shower, in front of a mirror, or while lying down. It all involves using the pad of your fingers to gently cover the entire breast area.
Here are more detailed instructions:
- In the shower – Gently move your fingers around your breasts in a circular pattern. Start from the outside of the breasts to the center. Next, gently pinch your nipples to see if there would be any discharge.
- In front of a mirror – With your arms on your sides, visually see if your breasts are even in coloring, shape, and size. If one breast is significantly bigger or smaller than the other, then it would be best to consult your doctor. But remember that a slight difference in size is perfectly normal. Only consult your doctor when you see an uncanny difference, especially when you are fully aware that your breasts were not as uneven a few months back. After looking at your breasts, raise both of your arms and see if there are any differences in your breasts. Finally, lower both your arms. Then, raise your right arm, and use your left hand to see if there is any swelling or lumps under the skin. Examine your breasts in a circular motion. Check your nipples.
- Lying down – While lying down, place a pillow under your right shoulder and put your right arm under your head. Next, move your left hand around your breast in a circular motion. Check the nipples, and then do the same procedure on the other breast.
With proper execution of a breast self-exam, you will be able to see if there are any changes within your breast tissues. Hopefully, this would be enough to foster early diagnosis should you be at risk of breast cancer.
Do you think you have breast cancer?
Breast cancer is a disease that has taken the lives of grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and daughters and even some men from so many families. Don’t let it happen to yours. If you think that you or anyone in your circle has breast cancer, New Hope Unlimited will help find ways to treat and stop the growth of cancer cells using less conventional, yet effective methods. Call us today or fill out our online form.