One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. While these statistics are a cause for concern, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older.
A preventative measure every woman can take is performing a self-breast exam each month. These monthly breast exams help you familiarize yourself with your breasts, so that you can more easily detect changes. Below are three commonly practiced ways you can conduct a self-breast exam from your home.
1. In the Mirror
According to John Hopkins Medical Center, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.” One way to conduct a self-breast exam is by simply looking at your breasts in the mirror. Look for any abnormalities including a change of size, shape or color. Other symptoms include bulging of the skin, redness, and soreness, rash or swelling. Next, raise your arms high, looking for the same changes. If you do experience any of these signs talk to your physician. Don’t be alarmed by anything you may find – it is always better to find symptoms sooner rather than later.
2. In the Shower
An easy way to perform a self-breast exam is in the shower. First, raise your right arm high and using your left hand examine your right breast. With circular motions, feel around the breast area with the pads of your fingers. Feel for any lumps, thickening, or masses. Don’t forget to check the area of your armpit and along the side of your breast. Repeat this same examination of the left breast. Consult your doctor for any unusual lumps or knots in your breast so that he/she may conduct a proper examination.
3. Lying Down
Another way you can conduct a self-breast exam is by lying down on your back with a pillow underneath your right shoulder. Next, rest your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand feel your right breast in circular motions for any lumps or changes. Be sure to feel the entire breast area as well as your armpit and squeeze your nipples gently, checking for any discharge or lumps. Repeat this examination on your left breast. Report any changes to your health care provider.
If you have any questions regarding self-breast exams or would like to discuss any findings you may have discovered in your exam, schedule an appointment with Orlando OB GYN, Contemporary Women’s Care, at www.myobgynorlando.com or call (407) 478-6249 today.