October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month; it is intended to encourage women to take steps towards awareness, prevention, and early detection. Breast self-exams are vital to early detection, and should be done once a month 3-5 days after your period starts. Becoming familiar with your breast health may help you notice if changes occur. Below is information on how to complete a breast self-exam.
- In the shower: Using your three middle fingers move in a circular motion from the outside of your breast in towards the nipple. Make sure to check the entire breast as well as the armpit, repeat on other breast. Notice any lumps, hardening knots or thickening, as well as any other changes.
- In front of a mirror: With your arms at your side visually inspect your breasts. Most women’s breasts are not identical. Look for any dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel. Also note if your nipples turn inward. Next raise your arms overhead and look for any swelling or other visual changes. Lastly placing your hands on your hips, press firmly to flex your chest muscles, look for any visual changes such as those mentioned above.
- Lying down: While lying down place a pillow under your left shoulder, and place your left arm beneath your head. Using the pads of your fingers on your right hand, make small circular motions inward along your left breast, start from the armpit and work in towards the nipple. Make sure to cover the entirety of the breast. Notice any lumps, hardening knots or thickening, as well as any other changes. Next gently squeeze the nipple looking for any discharge, irritation, or redness. Repeat on other breast.
Early detection is crucial in fighting breast cancer. Breast self-exams help women notice changes in their breast that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. For women who have gone through menopause make sure to complete your breast self-exam on the same day each month. Most women have some lumps in their breast; the goal of breast self-exams is to notice anything new or different. If you do notice any changes make sure to contact your health care provider. Together, we can bring the numbers down on breast cancer.
Comment below on how you have, or plan to help spread awareness about breast cancer.
Feature photo by North Charleston