Examining your breasts regularly is an important part of your health. If you're too embraassed or don't think it's important know that examining your breasts regularly is an easy, quick, and effective way to help detect breast cancer at its earliest stages.
Why do a self breast exam?
Breast lumps can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant), and can develop at any age, though it is most common in women older than 50.
Once you know what your breasts normally look and feel like, any new lump or change in appearance should be evaluated by your physician.
When to do a self breast exam?
The best time to examine your breasts is about one week after your menstrual period begins, when your breast tissue is least likely to be swollen or tender.
If your menstrual cycle is irregular, or if you have stopped menstruating due to menopause or a hysterectomy, do your examination on a day of the month that's easy to remember.
Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding can examine their breasts every month.
Breast-feeding mothers should examine their breasts after a feeding or after using a breast pump so that the breasts have as little milk as possible, which will make the examination easier and more comfortable.
How to do a self breast exam?
To do a breast self-examination, remove your clothes above the waist and lie down. The examination is done while lying down so your breast tissue spreads evenly over your chest wall and is as thin as possible, making it much easier to feel all your breast tissue.
Use the pads of the three middle fingers of your left hand-not your fingertips-to check your right breast. Move your fingers slowly in small coin-sized circles, checking for irregular lumps or changes in your breast.
Then do the same on the other side.
What to do if you discover a lump?
Talk to your physician immediately. Although most breast problems are not related to cancer, you want to have any lump or irregularity checked immediately.
Still unsure of how to do a self breast exam?
If you're still unsure if you're doing a breast exam correctly consult your physician for further instruction. More than likely you are doing it correctly, but it's never a bad idea to make sure.