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Cancer Therapies Holisticonline.com

Breast Self-Examination

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women over the age of 20 perform monthly breast self-examinations. The best time to do so is at the end of the menstrual period when the breasts are not swollen or tender. After the menopause, any easy-to-remember date will do, such as the first of each month. Use the same technique each time you examine your breasts, and examine both breasts in the same way so that any changes will be immediately obvious. If you find a lump, consult your doctor immediately. About four out of five breast lumps are found to be benign. (A benign tumor will not spread.)

Visual Inspection

breast-examn-1.JPG (11651 bytes) Begin by standing in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides. You should be checking for any changes. Get to know the general appearance, shape, and size of your breasts. Be alert to changes.
breast-examn-2.JPG (9716 bytes) Raise each arm in turn above your head, looking for changes in appearance. Turn from side to side, looking at the outline of the breasts for any changes. Look carefully for dimples and other changes.
breast-examn-3.JPG (10024 bytes) Place your hands behind your head to stretch the skin of your breasts, and again turn from side to side looking for changes. Inspect the undersides especially carefully.
breast-examn-4.JPG (13105 bytes) Finally, lean forward with your hands pressing down on your hips to flex your chest muscles and inspect the top surfaces of your breasts. Examine the skin surface for peculiarities. Orange- peel texture could indicate the presence of a lump.
breast-examn-nipples.JPG (11813 bytes) Check for any discharge from the nipple by squeezing gently between thumb and your index finger. Many women normally have a minimal whitish discharge, which collects on the nipple. However, any unusual or bloody discharge should be reported to your doctor.

Technique of Breast Self Examination

What To Look For (Visual)

breast-examn-look-for.JPG (9952 bytes)

Change in breast contour, such as a swelling Change in direction of the nipple Dimpling or puckering of the skin "Orange-peel" appearance of breast skin

Feeling For Lumps

breast-examn-step5.JPG (7065 bytes) Lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders and head, your arm by your side. Using the flat of your hand, work around the outer parts of the breast in a clockwise direction.
breast-examn-step6.JPG (6186 bytes) Raise your arm above your head and examine the inner parts of the breast. Stretching the tissue makes detection of lumps easier. Feel also along the top of the collarbone and into the armpit for any lumps or swellings.

Repeat the same procedure on the other breast. You should spend a minimum of 2 minutes on each breast, more if you have large breasts.

Technique for Examining for Lumps

breast-examn-tech.JPG (11839 bytes) Press down gently, using small dime-sized circular motions to feel for any thickening of tissue or for lumps. Gradually move your hand in a series of circles around the breast, until you have felt the entire breast.
breast-examn-tech-large.JPG (12322 bytes) For large breasts
Make small circular movements from the 12 o'clock position down toward the nipple, and out toward the 1 o'clock position. Repeat for all "clock hand" positions.

Source: American Medical Association

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