A Step-by-step Guide to Early Detection

A Step-by-step Guide to Early Detection

Read on to learn 3 ways to give yourself a self-exam between check-ups.

While mammograms can help you detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

Here are three ways to perform a self-exam.

1. In the Shower
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area.

Check both breasts each month for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Note any changes and get evaluated by your healthcare provider.

2. In Front of a Mirror
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, dimpling of the skin or changes in the nipples.

Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match — few women's breasts do — and look for any dimpling, puckering or changes particularly on one side.

3. Lying Down
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast in light then medium then firm pressure in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit. Squeeze the nipple and check for discharge and lumps.

Repeat these steps for your left breast.

Are Breast Self-exams Enough?
Mammograms can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. When combined with regular medical care and appropriate guideline-recommended mammography, frequent breast self-exams can help women know what is normal for them so they can report any changes to their healthcare provider.

If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don't panic — eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.


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