Catching cancer early is still the best way to survive cancer and thrive when your treatment is over. Learning how to do a monthly breast exam self-check and then actually doing them may be the best way for you to preserve your health for now and the future.
Many women don’t know how or when to do a proper breast exam-self check. The first step in a breast self exam is to look at your breasts, in a mirror with your hands at your sides or on your hips. This is just a general overview.
Basically, you are looking to make sure the color is right and that there is no dimpling, bulging, or puckering of the skin. You also want to make sure that your nipples are the right color, in the right place, and are sticking out, as opposed to being sunken in, or inverted.
You want to do the same thing again, but this time, you want to do it with your arms raised above your head, then again while bending forward at the waist. Also, while you are at the mirror, you will want to gently squeeze each nipple, making sure that there is no discharge.
After you are finished thoroughly examining your breasts in the mirror, it is time to feel them to make sure that they are ok. Feel them first while you are lying down. Use the first three fingers of the hand opposite to the breast you are examining (use your right hand to examine your left breast and your left hand to examine your right breast).
Using a firm and constant motion while keeping your fingers flat and together, feel your breasts from your collarbone to the top of your stomach and from your armpit to your sternum (cleavage area).
Many women find that using a pattern helps them make sure they get all of their breasts. You will want to repeat this process while sitting or standing. Many women find that it is easier when their skin is wet, so many doctors and breast cancer awareness advocates suggest doing this step in the shower or bathtub.
If you are pre-menopausal, the best time to do a breast self-exam is right after your period. Normal hormonal changes can cause irregularities in the breast tissue. These irregularities are nothing to be concerned about, but they may cause undue alarm.