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Self Examination of Breast: How to Check for Lumps and Other Breast Changes

Breast Cancer is the most common disease in women after skin cancer worldwide. The most important thing is that the more cases registered in the USA, the UK, Canada but fewer cases registered in underdeveloped counties of Asia and Africa. Due to the huge cases of breast cancer, awareness should be in the women to self examine as well as for the treatment.

In the article, the focus will be on the self-examination of breast cancer. Every woman should be told in the early twenties age about the benefits of self-examination of the breast(BSE). There should be seminars and workshops for women to discuss the complexities and examination of the breast. Hence, women should know how normal breast look. In case of any changes in the breast, women should be able to discuss with health professionals. It is very important to note that, abnormal changes in the breast doesn’t mean there is cancer. Yous should just self examine the changes in the breast and should be discussed with health care professionals in case of any doubt. In further sections, we will further discuss the choice of step by step approach and use a specific schedule to specify the breast.

Step by Step Approach for Breast Self Examination (BSE)

If choose BSE, then the best time to examine breast is when they are not swollen. It means they are likely to be in the week before your period. Women who examine their breast should have technique reviewed during periodic health examination by their consultant health professionals. Breast implanted women can also do BSE. Some health professionals believe that due to implementation, the breast tissue pushes out. Due to this, It become easier to examine the breast.

Pregnant women or those who are in breastfeeding time can also examine their breasts regularly. Women who not choose BSE still should also be aware of the shape of the breast. In case of any abnormalities, consult the specialist doctors right away.

How to Examine Your Breast?

In this section, we are going to discuss the complete method of self-examining your breast.

  • Lie down and place your right arm behind your head. In the first part of the breast the self- examination is done lying down, not standing up. This is because the breast tissue spreads evenly over the chest wall and is thinnest when you are lying down, making it much easier to feel all the breast tissue.
  • Use the finger pads of the 3 middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps in the right breast. Use overlapping dime-sized circular motions of the finger pads to feel the breast tissue.
Self Examination of Breast
  • Use 3 different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue. Light pressure is needed to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure to feel a little deeper, and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. It is normal to feel a firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast, but you should tell your doctor if you feel anything else out of the ordinary. If you are not sure how hard to press, talk with your doctor or nurse. Feel each area of breast tissue with all 3 pressure levels before moving on to the next spot.
  • Starting at an imaginary line drawn straight down from your underarm, move across the breast in an up- and- down pattern, moving across the breast to the middle of the sternum or breastbone. Be sure to check the entire breast area by going down until you feel only ribs and up to the neck or clavicle (collarbone).
  • There is some evidence to suggest that the up- and- down pattern (sometimes called the vertical pattern) is the most effective pattern for covering the entire breast without missing any breast tissue.
  • Repeat the examination on your left breast, putting your left arm behind your head and using the finger pads of your right hand to do the examination.
  • Next, while standing in front of a mirror with your hands pressing firmly down on your hips, look at your breasts for any changes in size, shape, contour, dimpling, or for any redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin. (Pressing down on the hips contracts the chest wall muscles and enhances any breast changes.
  • Examine each underarm while sitting up or standing and with your arm only slightly raised so you can easily feel in this area. Raising your arm straight up tightens the tissue in this area and makes it harder to examine.

This procedure for doing breast self- examination is different from previous recommendations. These changes represent an extensive review of the medical literature and input from an expert advisory group. There is evidence that the lying- down position, the examination area, the pattern of coverage of the breast, and the use of different amounts of pressure increase a woman’s ability to find abnormalities.

What Should I Do, If I Find a Lump?

  • Don’t Panic if you feel lump in your breast. Most breast lumps are not cancerous (Benign lumps). Most women also have some lumpy areas in their breasts all the time. Lump is breast doesn’t mean you are affected from cancer. Lump can be produced due to several reasons like hormonal changes, injury, or benign breast tumor.
  • Call your doctor, if you find lump or other new changes in your breast. Changes can be last for one menstrual cycle and can be prominent in some way. Before calling to the doctor, you should wait for the complete menstrual cycle, whether the breast changes disappear on its own or not. It is highly recommended to call your primary doctor or gynecologists who knows you and has done a breast exam on you before.
  • You should know, what to expect at an appointment to evaluate a breast lump. Your doctor can take your history and will do your breast exam physically. The doctor can also recommend breast imaging tests. If further testing is needed, doctor can recommend you advance imaging test named MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), MBI (molecular breast imaging), and/or a biopsy. Make it sure to get the answer from your doctor about the cause of the lump or other breast changes. You can also ask about the plan of monitoring and treating of breast. Don’t hesitate to your doctor and take all necessary information about the changes in your breast

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