The Surgery Group of LA would like to humbly suggest that all women perform a breast self-examination every month in a communal effort to help detect breast cancer earlier and save lives.
This is because thirty to forty percent of breast cancer cases were detected by feeling a lump. Breast self-examinations are also amazing ways for women to become more familiar with the look and feel of their breasts and to detect changes quickly if they arrive.
So how do I actually perform a breast self-examination?
A breast self-exam requires you to visually see your breasts and feel them for about 5 minutes, every month.
The optimal time to perform one is approximately 3-7 days after the first day of your period when your breasts are less tender and lumpy.
Who needs to do them?
Women in their 20’s and 30’s are strongly urged to do self-exams, but it’s never too early or too late to start.
This is because women aren’t required to have regular mammography screenings until age 40 and can be a quick and affordable line of detection while the risk of breast cancer is still too low to need constant medical supervision.
Woman over the age of 40 are recommended to get a mammogram every year as well, but they are also encouraged to perform a monthly self-examination to increase the chance of detection as cancer risk rise.
What do I do if I find a lump?
The first thing to remember is that some changes in the breast can be normal.
Breast changes even if they might require some medical attention, are usually not cancer. More likely reasons include period issues, birth control pills, pregnancy complications or the pregnancy itself, aging, and menopause.
Which lumps are most likely to be cancerous?
Keep an eye out for hard and painless lumps, especially if they come with an odd or strange texture.
The size of the change has no relation to whether it’s minor or not, or cancer or not. Any changes in verified lumps, the breast skin, and the nipple area should be checked out by a doctor.
What are common tips and mistakes?
Generally speaking, you want your hands to be clean and moisturized ideally. Doing it in the shower can be a great way for you to really get a feel without causing too much irritation. Focus on a pattern and use the pads, not the nails of your fingers. Don’t try to feel it all at one pressure, try to oscillate between soft and tough as go.
- Performing them right before or right during your period
- Missing key spots near the upper chest and armpit
Performing breast self-examinations maybe anxiety inducing but they are the best way to detect changes in the breast, and not for yourself if your breasts are as they should or not. If something is happening to your breasts that is abnormal for you, make sure your doctor knows right away.