Although doctors recommend that women begin practicing breast self-exams (BSE) at age 20, many are still unaware of how important this procedure is to their heath. As 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer, early detection is the best way to fight the disease. The key is to notice tumors before they grow to be potentially deadly; a BSE carefully searches the breasts for signs of these tumors.
A special advisory group of doctors created standard procedures for a BSE to assist women in becoming ‘breast aware.’ This awareness refers to knowing your normal breast fully and being more likely to notice a change that could be cancerous. Naturally, the breasts will change over time, and regular self-examinations can help decide what is normal and what is a concern.
While there is no definition for a normal breast, you should know the symptoms that a BSE searches for.
- A lump or bumpy area in the breast or armpit
- A noticeable change in outline or shape of the breast
- A non-milky nipple discharge, or an inverted nipple
- A dimpling, scaling or discolouration of the skin around the breast
A breast self-exam is recommended every month a few days after your period ends. By searching improperly, you may miss a tumor! Not every cancer can be located in this way, but a BSE is a critical step for becoming ‘breast aware.’ The earlier you begin regular exams, abnormalities will be less difficult to discover. For women who find tumors in their early stages, 80% will survive.
First, examine your breasts in a mirror with the arms both lowered and raised; search for the visible symptoms described above. Next, feel your breasts while lying down. Using a firm and smooth touch cover the entire breast from the collarbone to the top of the abdomen, and from the armpit to cleavage. Breasts often have different zones where tumors can occur …be sure to examine them all.
If you find a lump or one of the other named symptoms, consult your GP as soon as possible. Remember, an early discovery is the best way to combat breast cancer.
In this video, Dr. Chris shows you how to check your breasts for any possible signs of growths or other symptoms.
Be aware that this video does contain a scene of partial nudity for educational purposes.
Photograph courtesy of www.femalefirst.co.uk