Breast self-examination is a procedure which is performed by an individual to examine physically and visually herself for any changes in the breasts and underarm area of the body.
When Should Breast Self-Examination Be Done?
By doing BSE regularly, you can get to know how your breasts feel and look so that you are quicker to detect any change.
Women can start practicing BSE at about age 20 and continue this practice all through their lives, in fact during pregnancy and after menopause.
BSE can be done every month. It will make you familiar with your breasts so that you can notice any change from what is normal or abnormal for you.
- If you still menstruate, then the best time to do BSE is several days or a week after your period ends. In those days your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen.
- If you no longer menstruate, then pick a certain day or the first day of each month to remind yourself to do BSE.
- If you are taking hormones for some reason then ask with your physician about when to do BSE.
Changes to Be Aware Of:
Check with your doctor if you find any change in your breasts that causes you worry. Certain Changes in your breasts may include:
- Development of a lump
- A discharge other than breast milk
- enlargement of the breast
- Skin annoyance or dimpling
- Nipple abnormalities such as pain, redness, scariness, turning inward
How to Do Breast Self-Examination:
- Stand in front of a mirror large enough for you to see your breasts visibly. Check each of the breasts for anything strange. Check the skin for puckering or dimpling. Look for a discharge (other than milk) from the nipples.
- Clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward while watching closely in the mirror.
- Now press your hands tightly on your hips and bend slightly toward the mirror. You should feel your chest muscles tighten.
- Gently press each nipple and look for a nipple discharge.
- Best way to examine the breasts, while lying down because it spreads the tissues evenly over the chest. Lay flat on your back with one arm on your head and a pillow under the shoulder. This position levels the breast and makes it easier to examine.
What Do You Do if You Find a Lump?
One of the most alarming moments for a woman is if she feels something different or unusual while performing breast self-examination. One of the most significant reasons to examine regularly your breasts is so that you should know what is usual for your breasts. If you find or feels a lump, it is really important not to panic or worry.
If you notice lumpiness in your breast or feel something different in the tissue or you feel a clear lump, then there may be a valid cause for concern and it is very important to contact your physician. It is natural to be afraid when discovering a lump, but do not delay to take action against breast cancer. Remember that most lumps in the breasts are benign (not cancer).