You need your breasts, so knead them, often.
We cannot stress this enough!
Breast cancer does not have any specific look or feel to it. Breast cancer is detected in breast self exams by knowing what is different for you. Knowing how you usually feel and being able to identify when things are not normal.
The first time you do a self breast exam you will feel some lump and bumpy hills, valleys, and ridges. This is normal since breasts are composed of firm glandular tissue and soft fatty tissue. The most important thing is to know what lumps and bumps are normal for you, in order to identify if any changes are happening.
If you feel a lump, first check the opposite side and see if it has a matching area i.e. mirror image. Fortunately the breast tissue is rather symmetrical (one side matches the other). If you feel a lumpy area in the upper outer right breast, check the upper outer left breast for a corresponding area. Consult your doctor if the lump is only on one side.
Self breast exams are not only feeling your breasts, but also looking at yourself. Understanding the shape, size and balance of your breasts and being able to detect any changes.
There are preferred techniques, however it is most important to be in the habit of performing regular checks, even if the exam is not “perfect.” The purpose of self breast exams is to get comfortable with the normal look and feel of your breasts so you can easily detect any signs or symptoms of changes as early as possible. You should report any changes to a doctor or nurse as soon as possible.
Signs or symptoms might include:
- the development of a lump or swelling
- skin irritation or dimpling
- nipple retraction (turning inwards)
- changes in the shape or size of the breast or nipple
- change in the position of the nipple
- redness, rash, or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin
- discharge other than breast milk, or bleeding of the nipple
- nipple pain or pain in one of the breasts or the armpit
Should you notice any of these changes you should contact your doctor or nurse immediately for further evaluation. Keep calm and remember that most often these changes are not related to cancer, but checking early could save your life if it is.
Self breast exams are crucial for women in order to catch cancer in its early stages, when it can be easily removed. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform self breast exams at least once a month.
If you need a monthly reminder for your self breast exam, we have good news, with today’s technology there are multiple resources available to you. There are several free apps you can download for your iphone or android, to meet your specific needs. Alternatively you can mark it on your calendar, set an alarm on your email, or have a friend remind you.
If you don’t think you’ll have the time, remember, it takes only 10 minutes a month. I’m sure you would agree time spent examining yourself for cancer would be much easier than time going through chemo. Don’t find excuses, just do it.
Learn more about “How To” do a self breast exam: