A monthly breast self-exam is another tool women have in conjunction with annual mammograms to find cancers early and improve survival rates. You use your hands and eyes to detect any changes in the look and feel of your breasts. Not a replacement for annual mammograms, it is still valuable to be familiar with the normal consistencies of your breast. When cancer is detected early, the chances of survival are much improved. Let us go through how to perform a monthly breast exam.
Do It In The Shower
Use the pads of your three middle fingers and check your entire breast and armpits pressing lightly, and then with medium and firm strength. Check for lumps, any thickening or hardening of breast tissue or any other changes.
Do It In Front Of A Mirror
Carefully look at your breasts with your arms at your side. Then raise both arms overhead. Look for changes like swelling or dimpling of the skin. Put your palms on your hips and flex your chest muscles. Your breasts are never the same and won’t match, but look for any noticeable changes.
Do It Lying Down
Your breasts will spread out as you lie down. Put a pillow comfortably under your right shoulder and place your right hand under your head. Use your left hand and move the pads of your fingers around your right breast including the armpit.
Squeeze the nipple to check for any discharge or lumps. Then repeat for the left breast.
When To Be Concerned
Finding a lump or some other changes to your breasts does not necessarily mean you have cancer. 8 out of 10 lumps are benign.
It is always a good idea to call Virginia Women’s Health Associates if your discover any of the following:
- A change in the look and feel of your nipple
- A lump, hard knot, or thick spot
- Nipple discharge
- Nipple pulling inward
- Rash on your nipple
- Change in the look, feel, or size of a breast
- Dimpling or puckering
- Pain in one spot
- Warmth, redness, or dark spot on your breast skin
- Swelling of one of both breasts
Contact Virginia Women’s Health Associates in Reston & Annandale, VA if you have questions about monthly breast self exams. If you notice a worrisome change, call us at (703) 435-2555, or request an appointment online, to schedule an evaluation.