Self breast examination is a screening method used in an attempt to detecting early breast cancer. It is a physical examination used to detect lump in the breast. Most women see it as a big task because they feel so uncomfortable doing it, others complain that they are not sure of their findings.
Breast self-exams only help you familiarize yourself with the shape, size, and texture of your breasts. This is important because it can help you determine when there is changes in your breasts.
Start by standing topless in front of a mirror with your hands at your sides. Visually inspect your breasts for the following:
changes in size, shape, or symmetry
asymmetrical ridges at the bottom
Check for these signs with your hands at your sides, then with your arms over your head, and again when lifting one breast at a time.
2. Using the pads—not the tips—of your fingers, inspect your breasts while lying down and again in the shower. The water and soap in the shower will allow your fingers to glide easily over your skin.
3. Using varying pressure and taking your time, massage your fingers over your breasts in a spiral pattern starting at the nipple. Make your way up to the top of your breast near the collarbone, to the center by your breastbone, and to the sides near your armpits. Do this by putting one arm over your head while massaging your breast with the other hand.
4. Lastly, gently squeeze your nipples to check for discharge.
Finding a lump in your breast can be alarming, but an estimated 80 to 90 percent of breast lumps aren’t cancerous. They are typically caused by other, benign conditions, such as fibrocystic breast disease.
After a Breast Self-Exam, if you find a lump or abnormality, don’t panic. Remember that the vast majority of breast abnormalities turn out to be benign (non-cancerous).
Besides cancer, breast lumps can be caused by:
adenofibroma: a benign tumor of the breast tissue
fibrocystic breast disease: painful, lumpy breasts caused by hormone changes
intraductal papilloma: a small, benign tumor of the milk ducts
mammary fat necrosis: lumps formed by bruised, dead, or injured fat tissue
However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore a lump or abnormality. Make an appointment with your doctor to have your breast professionally examined.