Ways & How

how to do a breast exam

how to do a breast exam

These days, women must know how to do a breast exam before any symptom is recognized. Prevention is better than a cure. As emphasized by the American Cancer Society (ACS), “the earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work.” There are a number of breast self-examination methods that can help in diagnosing the presence of distortions or lumps in the breast. Let us study the basic techniques in doing breast examinations.

  1. Know the symptoms. The most prominent indication of breast cancer is a lump or lymph node that grows differently compared to other breast tissues. Occasional pain or mastodynia is not a reliable indication of a tumor in the breast, although it may be suggestive of other breast health problems.

    Breast inflammation manifesting a peau d’orange appearance (orange-peel texture) accompanied by skin itching and nipple inversion strongly indicates inflammatory breast cancer. Skin changes like mild flakes in the nipple, increased sensitivity, burning and other eczematoid symptoms are signs of Paget’s syndrome in the breast.

    rly half of women suffering from this syndrome also have a breast tumor.

  2. Do a Visual Examination. This exam heavily relies on the changes in the breast that the eyes can readily see. Stand in front of a wide mirror, raise your left hand overhead, and use your right hand in finding changes in the left breast. Look out for swelling or redness on the breast skin, changes in the size and shape, skin scaling, odd curves, ridging like corrugated paper or any rough texture due to dimpling. Unusual rashes and strange discharges are alarming signs of a breast disorder. Do the same process for the right breast.

  3. Do a Palpation Examination. To find lumps, you have to press your breasts. If your breasts are small, put a pillow beneath the shoulder of the breast before checking. Apply powder, oil or lotion around the breast.

    Check the left breast by raising the left hand overhead. Use your right hand’s ring, middle and index fingers. Start the exam near the armpit, underneath the breast, up to the middle and collar bones, until you get back to your armpit. Continue the circular movements with your fingers until you reach the nipple. Along the way, apply moderate pressure so you can feel any lump formation in your breast. Do the same process for the right breast.

  4. Look for the “neighborhoods.” Lumps may form not just in the breast, but they can also grow in the outer area. Lymph nodes may be found in the armpit. The lower part of your breast may feel sandy or lumpy. Anything unusual that gets worse over time should be brought to the attention of your health care provider.

  5. Get screened. Regardless of your risk level, you should get screened through a medical examination called a mammogram to detect lump formations in your breasts. The mammogram procedure can be a little painful, but it can really help early detection of breast cancer.

    Starting from age 20, women should undergo a mammogram exam every few years if there are no revealing symptoms. BreastScreen Australia recommends a mammogram screening once every two years, especially if there are suspicious symptoms. However, women who are at a high risk of developing breast cancer, like those who have a family history of breast tumors, may choose earlier annual screenings.

There is no room for negligence in terms of breast cancer awareness. Every woman should know and perform the techniques on how to do a breast exam. The steps enumerated above are quite simple and won’t take much of your time. Remember, early detection of any suspicious lump in the breast increases the chances of surviving breast cancer.


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