A breast self-exam for breast awareness is a safe way to become familiar with the normal look and feel of your breasts.
However, there are some limitations and risks, including Anxiety caused by finding a lump.
Most of the lumps women find in their breasts are not cancerous. Still, finding something suspicious in your breast can make you anxious about what it means.
Additional tests and procedures may be necessary to check out lumps or changes. Overestimating the benefits of self-exams.
A breast self-exam is not a substitute for a breast exam done by your doctor (clinical breast exam) or a screening mammogram.
Using a breast self-exam to familiarize yourself with your breasts can supplement breast cancer screening, but cannot replace it.
4 Preparing for your Procedure
To prepare for your breast self-exam for breast awareness. Ask your doctor for a demonstration.
Prior to beginning breast self-exams for breast awareness, you may find it very helpful to discuss the instructions and technique with your doctor.
If you menstruate, choose a time in your cycle when your breasts are least tender.
Your hormone levels fluctuate each month during your menstrual cycle, which causes changes in breast tissue.
Swelling begins to decrease when your period starts. The best time to perform a self-exam for breast awareness is usually a few days after your period ends.
5 What to Expect
Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your breast self exam for self awareness.
Sit or stand shirtless and braless in front of a mirror with your arms at your sides.
To inspect your breasts visually, do the following:
Face forward and look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape or symmetry.
Check to see if your nipples are turned in (inverted).
Inspect your breasts with your hands pressed down on your hips.
Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together.
Lift your breasts to see if ridges along the bottom are symmetrical.
If you have a vision impairment that makes it difficult for you to visually inspect your breasts, ask a trusted friend or a family member to help you.
Next, use your hands to examine your breasts.
Common ways to perform the manual part of the breast exam include:
Lying down. Choose a bed or other flat surface to lie down on your back. When lying down, breast tissue spreads out, making it thinner and easier to feel. In the shower.
Lather your fingers and breasts with soap to help your fingers glide more smoothly over your skin.
When examining your breasts, some general tips to keep in mind include:
Use the pads of your fingers.
Use the pads, not the very tips, of your three middle fingers for the exam. If you have difficulty feeling with your finger pads, use another part of your hands that is more sensitive, such as your palm or the backs of your fingers.
Use different pressure levels. Your goal is to feel different depths of the breast by using different levels of pressure to feel all the breast tissue.
Use light pressure to feel the tissue closest to the skin, medium pressure to feel a little deeper, and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs.
Be sure to use each pressure level before moving on to the next spot. If you're not sure how hard to press, talk with your doctor or nurse.
Take your time. Don't rush. It may take several minutes to carefully examine your breasts. Follow a pattern. Use a methodical technique to ensure you examine your entire breast.
For instance, imagine the face of a clock over your breast or the slices of a pie. Begin near your collarbone and examine that section, moving your fingers toward your nipple.
Then move your fingers to the next section. If you have a disability that makes it difficult to examine your breasts using this technique, you likely can still conduct a breast self-exam.
Ask your doctor to show you ways you can examine your breasts.
6 Procedure Results
If you do not understand your breast self exam for self awareness results, consult with your doctor.
A lot of women find lumps or changes in their breasts since some of these are normal changes that occur at various points in their menstrual cycles.
Discovering a change or lump in your breast is not a reason to panic. Breasts often feel different in different places. A firm ridge along the bottom of each breast is normal, for instance.
The look and feel of our breast gradually change as your ages. When to contact your doctor.
Make an appointment with you doctor if you notice the following:
A hard lump or knot near your underarm.
Changes in the way your breast looks and feels, including thickening or prominent fullness that is different from the surrounding tissue.
Dimples, puckers, bulges or ridges on the skin of your breasts.
Redness, warmth, swelling or pain.
Itching, scales or rashes.
Bloody nipple discharge.
A recent change in a nipple to become pushed in (inverted) instead of sticking out.
Your doctor ma recommends additional tests and procedures to investigate breast changes, including a clinical breast exam, mammogram, and ultrasound.
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