During breast cancer awareness month and always, women should make time for breast self exams.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so breast exams are a hot topic. Although breast cancer cannot be prevented, women can take steps to detect anything out of the ordinary and get it looked at by a doctor.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump. So, establishing a regular breast self exam is important. Being familiar with your body is always a good idea in general, and breast self exams familiarize yourself with your breasts so you can tell immediately when they change. Also, it’s important to get into a routine – do a self-exam at the same time every month.
Now that we understand the importance of conducting breast self-exams, let’s learn how. The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers the following steps.
How to Perform a Breast Self Exam
Each month, follow these steps:
- In the shower, use the pads of your fingers and move in a circular motion around your breast and armpit area. Monitor for lumps.
- In the mirror, visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Then with your arms raised above your head. Look for any changes in contour, dimpling, swelling or nipples.
- Lying down with a pillow under your shoulder, arm and head, use the pads of your fingers and inspect in circular motions as you did in the shower. Breast tissue spreads out evenly when laying down, so this is why this step is repeated.
Women who feel a lump or see any differences in their breasts shouldn’t panic. Not only are most lumps unharmful or benign, hormone changes during menstrual cycles can cause changes in breasts. So, women should wait until the end of their cycle to see if their breasts have gone back to normal. If they haven’t, it is time to call the doctor for an appointment.
Mammograms can detect tumors before they are felt, of course, but women who are familiar with their bodies can notice changes and most likely get ahead of any possible problems.
In conclusion, women shouldn’t be afraid of being familiar with their own bodies. Monthly breast self exams can help women in the long run by detecting anything that could be wrong.