As recommended by the American Cancer Society, women in their 20’s and older should perform a breast self-exam once a month. A breast self-exam is performed to detect any changes or abnormalities in the breast. Approximately 1 out of every 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. For this very reason, it is important that women perform a breast self-exam on a monthly basis as early detection can play a significant role in a potential breast cancer diagnosis. Keep in mind, however, that a breast self-exam should not be relied on as an accurate screening for breast cancer.
How to Properly Perform a Breast Self-Exam in Voorhees
If you have never performed a breast self-exam before, we are here to guide you through every step. Prior to performing your first BSE, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with your breasts as they are. Standing in front of a mirror, examine the appearance and shape of your breasts. Be sure to also check hidden areas such as the cleavage and beneath your breasts. Take a mental note of their “normal” appearance or write down your observations, including bumps, scars, etc. Once you’ve done this, you are ready to perform a breast self-exam.
A breast self-exam should be performed following these steps:
- In front of a mirror
Begin your BSE with your back and shoulders straight, and your arms to your sides. Using the initial examination of your breasts as a reference, inspect your breasts for any dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin. Other abnormalities to look for includes a change in nipple size or location, general redness or rash, swelling or soreness.
Continue this portion of the exam by lifting your arms above your head and examining your breasts for the same above mentioned abnormalities.
- Lying down
Next, lie down and place one arm behind your head, using the opposite arm to examine the breast on that side of your body. Using the tip of your fingers, press down and feel your breasts in a circular motion. To ensure that you examine your breast fully, begin at the nipple and move outwards. Take your time and feel for any unusual lumps or masses. Be sure to examine your breast up and down, side to side, covering the area from your armpit to your cleavage. Following these exact instructions, repeat this step for the other breast.
- In the shower
Using the same finger motions you would if you were lying down (refer to the previous step), perform a breast self-exam while in the shower. With your skin wet and more tender, it may be easier to detect any abnormal lumps or knots.
What to Do If You Notice Any Abnormalities
If you notice any abnormalities in your breast, from their appearance to detecting an unusual lump, do not panic, but contact your physician immediately. At Women’s Health Associates, we provide women in all stages of life comprehensive, compassionate, high-quality gynecological care. If you believe there may be an abnormality with your breasts, contact us for a follow-up examination.
If you are a woman who is 40 years of age or older and have not yet scheduled your annual mammography exam, we highly recommend you do so at our Voorhees or Turnersville location. Don’t wait any longer; the time is now to be proactive about your health.