Breast Health Awareness: Your Guide to Self-Examination

Breast Health Awareness: Your Guide to Self-Examination

It's important to have regular screenings as recommended by your healthcare provider, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors. Early detection and timely medical care can greatly improve the chances of successful treatment.

Performing regular breast self-exams are an important part of breast health awareness but not a substitute for regular clinical breast exams and mammograms. Here are some tips and advice for self-checking for breast cancer:

  1. Choose a consistent time: Pick a regular time each month to perform the self-exam. Many women choose to do it right after their menstrual period when the breasts are less likely to be swollen or tender. If you're post-menopausal, you can choose any day.
  2. Use a method: There are two common methods for breast self-exams:
    • The Vertical Strip Method: Stand in front of a mirror and raise your arms. Examine your breasts in a vertical pattern, moving from the collarbone to the bra line and back down. Check both breasts for any changes.
    • The Circular Method: In the shower, use soapy hands to glide your fingers in a circular motion around the breast, covering the entire breast and armpit area.
  3. Use your hands: You can use your hands to feel changes in your breasts or use the pads of your three middle fingers, not the tips, keeping them together and flat, apply different levels of pressure to feel the tissue beneath the skin. You can use your right hand to check your left breast and vice versa.
  4. Cover the entire breast: Ensure you cover the entire breast tissue, including the upper outer areas near the armpit. Most breast cancers occur in this region.
  5. Check for changes: Look for any changes in your breasts. This includes lumps or thickening in the breast or underarm area, changes in breast size or shape, dimpling or puckering of the skin, nipple changes (like discharge, inversion, or scaling), or persistent breast pain.
  6. Inspect in the Shower: Many women find it convenient to perform the examination in the shower when the skin is wet and slippery. Use soapy hands to glide your fingers over your breast tissue.
  7. Examine Lying Down: Some women prefer to self-examine while lying down on the back. Put a pillow under one shoulder with that arm behind the head. Use the opposite hand to examine the breast on the raised side. This position spreads out the breast tissue more evenly. Repeat on the other side.
  8. Use a mirror: Examine your breasts in the mirror with your arms at your sides, raised overhead, and on your hips. Look for any visual changes like skin texture, color, or shape.  Check for any skin changes, dimpling, or retraction of the nipple.
  9. Stay consistent: Make breast self-exams a monthly routine and familiarize yourself with the normal look and feel of your breasts so that you can quickly detect any changes.
  10. Don't Panic Over Normal Changes: It's common for breasts to have natural lumps and bumps, and they can change with your menstrual cycle. Focus on any persistent changes that you haven't noticed before and consider using natural and organic skin and hair care products to minimize exposure to toxins.
  11. Consult a healthcare professional: If you find any unusual changes during a self-exam, consult a healthcare professional. They can perform further examinations, such as mammograms or ultrasounds, to confirm any abnormalities.
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