How To Do A Self-Exam
By Green Shoot Media
About 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump and get it checked out. Here’s how to properly conduct a selfexam. IT’S NOT A MAMMOGRAM A self-exam is useful, but remember, it’s not the same as a mammogram or other imaging that can detect cancer in its very earliest stages. For the most effective medical care, combine self-exams with regular doctor’s appointments and age- and health-appropriate cancer screenings. Some signs to look for during your breast exam are nipple tenderness, lumps, thickening, changes in skin texture or enlargement of pores in the skin of the breast. Also examine your underarm area as the breast tissue spreads around your sides and armpits. LYING DOWN When lying down, your breast tissue will spread against the chest wall. Place a pillow under your shoulder and raise that arm above your head. Using the opposite hand, move the pads of your fingers around your breast, covering the entire area and armpit. Use light, medium and firm pressure. Check for nipple discharge and lumps, then repeat for the other side. IN FRONT OF A MIRROR With your arms at your sides, look at your breasts as you raise your arms over your head. You’re looking for changes in the contour, swelling, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples. Rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Look for dimpling, puckering or changes, particularly on one side. Don’t be alarmed if your breasts aren’t symmetrical; most women’s aren’t. IN THE SHOWER Hold one arm up and behind your head. Using your fingertips, check the entire breast and armpit area on that side by pressing down with light, medium and firm pressure. Look for lumps, thickening, a knot or any other changes. If you notice any changes, don’t panic. Most lumps, even, aren’t cancer. But you do need to check with your doctor for a clinical exam whenever you have concerns. Combined with regular medical care and more in-depth screening, such as mammography, self-exams are a powerful tool in the early detection and successful treatment of breast cancer.