With about 242,000 breast cancer cases diagnosed every year in America, the importance of a breast self-exam to detect cancer is greater than ever. Understanding how to properly do one of these exams can save lives.
How To Do a Breast Self-Exam
It is important to set a schedule for your breast self-examination. In general, you should perform a breast self-exam at least monthly, up to five days after the end of your last menstrual cycle. If you are in menopause, plan a day each month for the exam, like the 5th or 20th.
Most self-exams are done standing up. However, you can also do them lying down. You might choose to look in a mirror or take care of the exam while you are in the shower.
To perform the examination, you should follow these steps:
- Lift one of your arms up and bend it behind your head. This will position the breast into a more lifted position for the examination.
- With the opposite hand, take your index, middle, and ring finger and feel around the armpit and breast, including the tops, sides, and bottom.
- Apply varying levels of pressure, gauging any changes.
- Repeat on the other side.
If lying down, here is how to perform a breast self-exam:
- Put a pillow under your back and lift your left arm above your head.
- With the right hand, use three fingers to feel around the breast opposite your hand, expanding the inspection to the armpit.
- Repeat for the other breast by lifting your right arm and using your left hand to perform the examination.
What Does a Breast Self-Exam Tell You?
A breast self-exam helps you get to know what your breasts feel like. This will give you a baseline for detecting abnormalities, such as knots, thickened tissue, or lumps and bumps.
Feeling these changes does not necessarily mean breast cancer. Breasts can change over a woman’s lifetime, but you should still always see your doctor after finding a breast change just to be sure.
Schedule Your Mammogram
Yearly mammograms are good breast health practice, even if you have not noticed any changes during your breast self-exams. We encourage our patients to make sure they have a mammogram yearly! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Park Meadows Cosmetic Surgery through the online contact form or by calling our Lone Tree, CO, office at 303-706-1100.