It’s difficult to overemphasize the importance of regular breast self examinations when one in eight women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. When it comes to breast exams and screening tools, more is always better. Let’s find out how to do a breast self exam, when to do it, and why they are so important.
How To Do A Breast Self Examination
Every woman should get to know their breasts. This includes how they feel and how they look.
It’s best to examine your breast in the shower. Your goal is to get to know your breast’s geography or physical features which may be one way to explain it. Use circular motions to accomplish this and once you become familiar with both breasts, it will be easier to notice any changes.
Then do the same exam later that day while lying down. This will help you discover how your breasts feel in a different position as you search for any lumps or abnormalities. Forty percent of breast cancer diagnoses are first detected by the women themselves doing self exams.
Contact your primary care provider if you notice any changes in the size of shape of a lump or if you notice dimpling in your breast.
When To Do Your Breast Self Examination
It is recommended that you perform this exam at the same time every month, usually several days after your menstrual cycle if you are premenopausal. During that time your breasts should not be tender or swollen. Because women’s hormones fluctuate throughout the month, it is best to have a standard for comparison.
Postmenopausal women should perform their test on a specific day each month, like the 1st or the 15th.
The Importance Of A Breast Self Examination
It is important to understand that a breast self exam is not a stand-alone screening tool, nor is simply getting your annual mammogram and skipping the self exam. Both of these screening tools must be done as a combined defense against breast cancer.
A mammogram by itself cannot always find breast cancer, especially in women with dense breasts, but when it is combined with your own exam, you have a much better chance of catching breast cancer before it can spread. The earlier it is detected, your chances of survival increase.