The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam
As a leading provider of breast cancer radiation treatment in Elko, Nevada, Northeastern Nevada Radiation Oncology Center provides comprehensive cancer care using the most advanced treatment technology. Breast cancer affects more than 252,000 women every year in the U.S., and early detection can help achieve the best possible outcome for patients.
While mammograms are the most common screening tests for breast cancer, it is sometimes possible to detect breast cancer symptoms yourself by performing regular breast self-exams. Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Below we’ve outlined the five steps of a breast self-exam.
Stand up straight in front of a mirror, with your shoulders upright and your hands placed on your hips. Examine your breasts thoroughly and check for unusual size, shape and color. You should also check for any unusual swelling or distortion. However, it’s important to note that many women have uneven sized breasts, and this is completely normal. If you’re unsure, you can always contact your doctor to be safe.
If you notice any of the following, contact your doctor right away for an examination:
- Lumps, dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin
- An inverted nipple (facing inward instead of outward)
- Redness, soreness, rash or swelling
Raise your arms and look for any abnormalities in areas you may have missed initially.
Look closely for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples. Nipple discharge can be blood or fluid that looks watery, milky or yellowish colored.
Lie down and use your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Using the ends of your fingers, press gently and firmly using a circular motion. Do this for the entire breast, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your underarm to your cleavage. Many women find it easiest to take an up-and-down approach when moving their hand in large circles over the breasts.
Now stand up or sit in a chair so you can feel your breasts. Raise your right arm and feel your right breast with your left hand, using the same hand movements described in step 4. Then raise your left arm and feel your left breast with your right hand. Examining your breasts in the shower, while your skin is wet and slippery, can make it easier to detect changes in your breasts.
Choose the Same Time of the Month
The normal hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s body affect breast tissue. That’s why it’s important to choose the same time every month to examine your breasts. This way, you can distinguish between a normal change and something that feels different.
Questions? Contact Northeastern Radiation Oncology Center
While breast self-exams are not designed to replace breast cancer screenings, they can help you know what’s normal for you, so you can report any changes to your doctor. If you would like some information about our treatment center or the breast cancer radiation we provide, please don’t hesitate to contact us as we’re always here to help.