How to do a breast self-examination
October is breast cancer awareness month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.
A breast self-exam that you do for breast awareness helps you understand the normal look and feel of your breasts. If you notice a change in your breasts that seems abnormal or if you notice one breast is different when compared with the other, you can report it to your doctor. Many women feel that doing this is important to their health.
The best time to do a monthly self-breast examination is about three to five days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
Begin by lying on your back. It is easier to examine all breast tissue if you are lying down.
Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast.
Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area.
Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
Use one of the patterns shown in the diagram to make sure that you are covering all of the breast tissue.
Next, stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side.
Look at your breasts directly and in the mirror. Look for changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel.
Also note the shape and outline of each breast.
Check to see if the nipple turns inward.
Do the same with your arms raised above your head.