Performing Your Breast Self-Exam

Breast cancer continues to be a prevalent diagnosis among American women and, as a result, most of us have gotten much better with following through with our yearly mammograms and other other medical screenings. But there’s one thing that doctors would like us to become better at doing on a regular basis and that is breast self-examination.

The statistics are staggering. Close to 40% of diagnosed breast cancer is initially found by a woman who feels a lump or notices breast changes during a self-examination. We know our bodies best and therefore are in the unique position of being able to notice changes almost immediately. If we are able to establish a regular routine of breast self-examination we can go a long way towards potentially receiving the early diagnosis and treatment that is so important when treating breast cancer successfully.

So how do you go about performing a breast self-exam the right way?

1. First and foremost, establish a time of the month that you do your breast exam so that you are able to become used to a schedule. Try not to perform your exam right before or during your period when you are more likely to have breast changes.

2. With one hand behind your head, use your other hand to examine the opposite breast and armpit. Move around the breast in a circular motion from the outside, moving into the center as you go. Perform this on both sides, feeling for any hard areas, lumps, etc. You can perform this exam while standing or lying down. For the best results you should include both positions.

3. Check for any visual changes by examining yourself in the mirror. First look at your breasts with your arms at your side and then with your arms raised over your head. Look for dimpling or changes to the nipples as well.

Part of taking care of yourself is breast health. Stay in the habit of self exams so you know if and when to bring something to your doctor’s attention.

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