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.)
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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
Look For (Visual)
|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
|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.
|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.
for Examining for Lumps
|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.
|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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