Unfortunately Breast Cancer is the most common cancer that women all over the world are at a risk of. Hence it is very important to regularly do a breast self examination. A breast self examination consists of checking for unusual lumps, discharge or discolouration in your breasts. Monthly breast self examination are crucial to detect any signs and symptoms of breast cancer. They should be done ideally a week after the first day of your periods.
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If you are unsure how to carry out a self breast examination, here’s a guide:
1- Stand in front of the mirror and check your breasts in ample light for any discolouration, dents, pulls, or lumps. Notice the slightest and miniscule details. Remember, both breasts should look identical especially around the nipple.
2- Change positions; shift to get a closer look, turn to your left and then right and notice any oddities. Also lean forward with your hands on your hips and check if you feel any lumps while your breasts hang down.
3- Lift your arms above your head and notice any differences under the breast. This position gives you a closer look at the area where your bra underwire rests. Check for dents or pulls in this area.
4- Only looking at the breast will not be enough; so touch them and feel for any lumps that may not be visible to the naked eye. Apply some water or baby oil on both your breasts and glide your fingers smoothly and gently over them. Try doing this in the bath or while you take a shower.
5- Another way of feeling your breast is by using a soft thin t-shirt or cloth draped over the breasts.
6- Be sure to feel yourself in every corner using your palm as well as your fingers. Glide your hands over your breast gently and feel for lumps, notice any painful points, and soreness.
7- Repeat the above while standing, lying down, and even leaning forward.
8- Use both hands together and divide your breast examination in various parts for instance; think of your breasts as a wagon wheel diagram or a pie diagram and feel every part with care.
9- Proceed to feel your breasts first in an outward-to-inward direction, and then go opposite. Remember to examine the outer edge as well as the area under the breasts.
10- Don’t forget the nipples, the area around the nipples has very less tissue and hence any lumps in this area are a matter of concern.
11- Be careful to check whether there is any discharge from the nipples. Press them ever so gently as pressing harder could result in damage of the tissue.
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Although self breast examination is necessary it is not a substitute of mammography. Certain lumps that you may have noticed or felt could cause you concern but every lump is not cancerous. The breast consists of veins, fat tissue, and milk ducts, which can cause harmless benign lumps that can be easily treated. Hence, to be completely sure, it is advisable to go for a regular health check-up to your family physician once every 2-3 months.
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