Early detection of breast cancer is very important. The earlier that you find it, the more chance you have at fighting it and being successful in the fight.
There has been much debate over the years about whether a self-examination is a useful tool in the early detection of breast cancer or if it causes unnecessary concern and stress for the person who has done the self-examination. The results of the debates have concluded that it is still very important for women to do self-examinations and to see their doctor if they find any lumps or changes to their breasts.
So how do you correctly do a self-examination?
Step 1 – Looking
Stand in front of a mirror and look at your breasts. Check that your breasts are normal in their colour and size and that there is not any noticeable discolouration or swelling of the breasts.
If you notice that there are dimples or puckering on your breasts, that your nipple has changed its appearance or if they are red, hot or swollen then it is time to book in to see a doctor to determine what the cause may be.
Step 2 – Raise your arms
Whilst still standing in front of the mirror raise your arms above your head.
If any of the changes from step 1 occur whilst your arms are in the air, it is still best to go and see your doctor for confirmation.
Step 3 – Discharge
If you are experiencing any discharge from your nipples and are not lactating or pregnant that this could be a sign of something else going on. The discharge may be white or yellow in colour or have blood through it.
Step 4 – Feeling
This is best done whilst laying down. Using your right hand to check your left breast and vice versa. Using the first few fingers on your hand, create a firm touch to the breast and using a circular motion work your way around the breast. Making sure you keep your fingers together and cover the whole area of the breast. The area covered needs to go up to your collarbone and down to the top of your abdomen and right across to the armpits where the breast tissue ends.
Follow a pattern that you are comfortable with – you can go side to side or up and down. Ensuring you cover the whole area.
The aim of this exercise is to find any lumps or areas of the breast that feel different from the rest of it. Take note of any areas that you find that are different, hot or that you can feel a lump under.
Step 5 – Stand and feel
Follow the same exercise as in step 4 but whilst standing up. This can be done in the shower if you feel more comfortable. Ensure that you cover the whole area once again and take note of anything that is out of the ordinary.
If you do feel a lump in your breast or there is something different about the breast – do not start to worry and stress straight away. There are many reasons why you could be experiencing this including infection, blocked ducts or benign masses.
Book an appointment with your doctor to discuss the results that you have done and talk about what the next testing steps will be.
Be strong and confident and remember that you are amazing and will get through anything that is thrown at you!
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