Breast self examination is a type of screening technique that can be done at home to examine your breast for lumps, tumors, cysts or any other abnormalities in the breast. It can be done anytime at your own convenience at home and is very safe and easy.
Breast self examination is very effective in the early detection of any lump that could later lead to breast cancer. This gives the advantage of early treatment and prevention of any form of complications.
Not only that, but this examination also helps you to familiarize with the size, shape, texture and contour of your breast. It is very essential because it helps you to identify whether what you are feeling is normal or abnormal.
What is the Appropriate Time to do Breast Self Examination?
The most appropriate time to perform Breast self examination is a few days (3 – 5 days) after your monthly menstrual period. This is because prior to menstruation, there are some hormonal changes that may cause your breast to be tender, which can hinder you from getting to know exactly whether the tenderness is normal or not.
It is therefore best to perform breast self examination when the breast is in normal state. But for women who don’t menstruate due to menopause, they can pick the same date in every month to perform their breast self examination. For instance, 1st, 2nd or 3rd day of every month.
In addition, it is very helpful to keep a small book or journal where you can record any abnormality discovered during your breast self examination. You can then report to your physician or health care providers what you felt for proper evaluation.
How to Perform Breast Self Examination
Performing breast self examination can be done in various ways. You can use the several methods to examine yourself depending on your convenience.
1. Standing or sitting in front of a mirror
- Place both arms on your sides.
- Look at your breast straight in the mirror for any changes in skin colour, shape, size, inverted nipples, dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel.
- Do same by raising your hands above your head.
- Record your findings in your small booklet and report to your physician if any abnormality is noticed.
2. Lying down
- Put your right hand behind your head.
- Use the left hand to massage the right breast, not with the tip of your finger but with the pad of your fingers, gently but firmly press down in circular motion to examine the entire right breast.
- Do same to the left breast using same method.
- Record your findings then report to your physician if any abnormality was noticed.
3. During shower
- During bath, apply soap and water which will allow your finger slide freely and easily over your skin.
- Massage in a spiral pattern, starting from your nipple to the upper part of your breast, then to the middle part, and then to the sides close to your axilla (armpit). This is done by putting one of your hand over your head, while doing the massage with the other hand.
- Do the same for the other breast using the same method.
- Record your findings and report to your physician if any abnormality was noticed.
4. Squeeze the nipple
- Gently squeeze your right nipple to check for any form of discharge.
- Do same for the left nipple.
- Record your findings and report to your physician if there was any discharge and note the colour as well.
The aim of doing a breast self examination is mainly to make you become familiarized with the size and shape of your breast in case of any abnormality.
When you find any abnormality during the breast self examination, do not panic. Most lumps found during self examination turns out to be benign or non-cancerous.
Don’t hesitate to report any abnormalities at all you find to your doctor. Your doctor will re-examine you to properly diagnose the abnormality and treat it. If you also have other concerns about what to expect or look out for during self examination, discuss it over with your doctor.