October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month . Self-examination of the breast is an important step in the early detection of breast cancer. Together with clinical breast examinations and mammograms, it can help detect cancer at an early stage, when it is often treatable. Women should start performing regular breast tests at home in their 20s, according to the American Breast Cancer Foundation .
Three Ways to Perform a Breast Examination
Whatever self-examination you choose, remember that:
- Use the pads on your three middle fingers.
- Check the upper chest wall and forearms, as well as the breasts.
- Visually examine your breasts in a mirror for any swelling or deformity.
- Use different pressure levels while performing the test.
Breast self-examinations can be performed using any of three different approaches:
- Circular: Start at the outer edges of the breast and move your fingers in a circular motion around the entire breast.
- Wedge: Start at the outer edges of the breast, move your fingers towards the nipples and back again, in small wedge-shaped sections, until you have covered the entire breast.
- Vertical: Start with the forearm area, move the fingers down and back again until the whole breast has been checked.
How often should you examine your breasts?
Adult women of all ages should have a breast examination at least once a month. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation . Regular self-tests make you familiar with how your breasts look and feel, so that you can be aware of any changes.
Where breast self-tests should be performed
In the shower is a good place to examine your breasts. You should also inspect them visually in front of a mirror. First look at your breasts with your arms down at your sides. Then lift your arms high above your head. Look for swelling or dimming of the skin, contour changes or changes in the nipple. Then place your palms on your hips and press down to flex your chest muscles. Look for dimpling, puckering or changes on one side.
You can also examine your breasts while lying down. This position spreads the breast tissue evenly along the chest wall. To examine your right chest, place a pillow under your right shoulder, place your right arm behind your head, and use your left hand to examine your entire chest and armpit. Reverse the process to examine the left breast.
Why you need mammograms in addition to self-test
Mammography can detect tumors in the breast before they can be felt. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better. Breast self-examination plays an important role in early detection, especially in combination with regular mammogram examinations.
What should I do if you notice a lump
If you notice a lump while performing a breast exam, do not be afraid. As stated by the National Breast Cancer Foundation, eight out of ten lumps are not carcinogenic. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Our agent can help you make sure you have the health insurance you need.