The increase of breast cancer among women has raised the alarm and the need for women to observe breast health. Research has shown that early detection leads to initial treatment which increases the chances of eliminating cancer. Breast self-examination is a simple procedure that a woman can perform to detect breast cancer early on.
Why Is it Important
Self-examination is critical in observing the changes that might have taken place in your breasts. The abnormal signs that may be seen will guide and force you to look for medical experts for further consultation. Research has proven that self-examination is a significant step in early detection of cancer that affects the breast in women.
Some unusual changes in breast might signify other complications apart from cancer. The self-screening exercise will aid you to seek medical attention for further screening to determine the root cause of breast change. If you are not certain of the procedures involved in breast self-screening, you should seek expert advice from the doctor. The self-examination should serve as the first process in health awareness. However, it should not limit you from attending the specialized screening in the medical centers.
The Appropriate Time to Perform the Examination
Breast self-examination can be done by all women above the age of nineteen. The examination will aid you to notice the normal feeling and appearance of the breast in healthy condition. There is no fixed time for appropriate check for your breasts. However, it is recommended that the screening is done once per month.
The self-screening process should happen during pregnancy and continue after menopause. The appropriate time for breast examination is after the end of your menstrual periods when the breast is not enlarged. Women that take birth control pills should engage a qualified medical officer for advice on the best time to do the self-examination.
Steps to Follow When Performing a Self-Breast Examination
1. Observe Your Breasts
Begin your test by accurate observation of your breasts. Stand in front of a large mirror and observe the breasts. The mirror should be large enough to ensure you have a good view. Check for standard size, shape, and color of the breast. Ensure that the breasts are evenly shaped with no visible swelling.
2. Check the Nipples
Check the nipples and observe any unusual thing in them such as peeling of the skin, sores or change in their direction. Check on the mirror for any signs of liquid coming out of the nipples.
3. Place Your Arms Around Your Hips
Place your arms around your hips and inspect the breasts for any abnormal signs.
4. Place your Arms Over the Back of Your Head
Place your arms over the back of your head and inspect the breasts while noting the normal appearance.
5. Use your Hands & Lie on a Flat Surface
Make use of your hands to inspect the breast. Lie on a flat surface such as your bed and let your left hand feel the right breast. Make a firm and smooth touch with your first fingers and feel the breast. Repeat the procedure and press your left breast with your right-hand fingers. Feel the breast through a circular motion to cover all the breast.
6. Repeat in the Shower
Go to the shower and repeat the above procedure when the breasts are slippery.
Changes to Observe
• Swelling of the breast
• Development of a lump
• Skin disease around the breast area and abnormality in the nipples
In case of irritation or one or more of the signs above, you should seek an appointment with your doctor for further screening using advanced medical technology. You should also determine your family’s health history to be aware of the potential risk of developing diseases related to the breasts.