While breast cancer can’t be prevented, it is treatable with early detection.
How to Conduct A Breast Self-Exam
Conducting a self-exam doesn’t require a medical degree or special knowledge, just follow these simple steps and listen to your body.
Use the pads of your fingers to move about your breast in a circular motion, moving from the outside to the center. Do this to check for any lumps, thickening, or knots. Be sure to include your armpit area in your exam.
It’s also important to visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides as well as above your head. Look for any skin changes or changes in shape.
Changes that you should be concerned about include:
- A change in skin texture or enlargement of pores in breast skin
- Unexplained change in size or shape
- Shrinkage – especially if only present on one side
- Inverted nipple
- Scaly, red, or swollen areola or nipple
Changes may also occur that aren’t appearance related such as tenderness, lumps, or discharge.
How Often Should You Exam Yourself
Women of all ages should perform self-exams at least once a month. Doing these monthly exams can also help you to become familiar with how your breasts look so you can alert your doctor if there are any changes.
When You Should See A Doctor
If you experience any of the changes above you should contact your doctor immediately for a screening, this could just be a physical examination or more detailed imaging such as a mammogram.
Aside from contacting your doctor with an issue once a woman reaches the age of forty, she should begin getting yearly breast exams from her doctor. About 95% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are over the age of 40 but women with a history of cancer in their family or other risk factors should start yearly mammograms around thirty years old.