October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Here’s How To Perform a Breast Self-Exam
October is not only a month of beautiful autumn leaves and Halloween decorations, but it is also a time to raise awareness about breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, and early detection plays a crucial role in successful treatment and improved survival rates. Let’s join the global effort to raise breast cancer awareness, promote early detection, and support those affected by this disease.
One essential tool for early detection is a breast self-exam (BSE), which can be performed conveniently at home. The BSE allows women to become familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts, making it easier to recognize any changes or abnormalities. Here is a step-by-step guide to performing a breast self-exam:
- Stand in Front of a Mirror: Start by examining your breasts in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and arms on your hips. Look for any changes in size, shape, or symmetry. Check for puckering, dimpling, or changes in the skin texture, nipple position, or breast contour.
- Raise Your Arms: Still in front of the mirror, raise your arms above your head and observe for the same changes mentioned earlier. Pay attention to any fluid discharge from the nipples.
- Lie Down: Lie down on your back, placing a pillow under your right shoulder with your right hand behind your head. Use the pads of your three middle fingers on your left hand to examine your right breast using small circular motions, covering the entire breast area and armpit. Repeat this process for your left breast using your right hand.
- Perform the Circular Motions: While lying down, examine each breast using firm but gentle pressure. Begin at the outermost top edge of your breast, move your fingers in small circular motions, gradually working towards the nipple. Make sure to cover the entire breast and armpit.
- Examine the Nipples: Finally, gently squeeze each nipple and look for any discharge or changes in color or texture.
When Should You Consult a Healthcare Professional?
Performing regular breast self-exams is a proactive step in taking charge of your breast health. However, it is important to note that not all breast changes are cancerous, and self-exams are not perfect in spotting every abnormality. If you notice any of the following changes, it is important to consult your healthcare professional: lumps or thickening in the breast or underarms, irritation, redness, or swelling, pain or tenderness, changes in breast size or shape, skin dimpling or puckering, or changes in the nipple, such as inversion, discharge, or scaling.
Remember, a breast self-exam should never replace regular mammograms, clinical breast exams, or consultations with your medical professional. Early detection through regular screening is key to a positive outcome in battling breast cancer. By performing a regular breast self-exam, seeking medical advice when needed, and encouraging others to do the same, we can make a significant impact on fighting breast cancer.
In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to empower women to take an active role in their breast health. One way to do this is to learn how to conduct a breast self-exam, a simple yet powerful self-care practice.
A breast self-exam (BSE) is an important way for women to familiarize themselves with their breast tissue and identify any changes. It should be done on a monthly basis, ideally on the same day each month. To perform a BSE, start by standing in front of a mirror and looking for visual clues such as changes in size or shape, or any skin puckering, dimpling or rashes. Then, lying down, use the pads of your three middle fingers to feel for any lumps or other abnormalities. Make sure you use light, medium and firm pressures to cover the entire area.
When examining your breast tissue it is helpful to follow a pattern. Begin by feeling around the outside of the breast, then feel around the underside and armpit area. Move from the outside inward and from the bottom up. Finally, examine the nipple area. This method ensures every area is adequately examined.
A BSE should always be done after you menstruate, or if you are postmenopausal, it may be done at any time. It is important to note any changes and bring these to the attention of a health care professional right away. Also, remember that most breast lumps are noncancerous, but it is important to have any changes evaluated to rule out any serious problems.
The power of self-care is that it puts women in control of their own health. Learning how to perform a BSE is an easy yet important way to take responsibility for your own wellbeing. Embrace the power of self-care this month and start performing BSEs today.