211. Examine Your Breasts, Save Your Life

When detected and treated early, breast cancer is curable. Breast lumps are discovered by women themselves, by a doctor or nurse, or by mammography (low-dosage X-rays of the breast). Although most lumps are benign, some could indicate cancer. Experts differ on the benefits of doing routine breast self-exams (BSEs). Discuss doing BSEs with your doctor.

How To Do a BSE

Examine your breasts at the same time of the month–within 3 days after your menstrual period stops. The breasts will be less tender or swollen and easier to examine at that time. If you have gone through menopause, do a BSE on the same day of each month.

To examine your breasts.

  1. 1.Stand in front of a mirror and visually examine both breasts for dimpling; changes in color, texture, or shape; nipple discharge or bleeding; or scaliness around the nipple.

  2. 2.Lie down. Raise your left arm and place your left hand behind your head. With the fingers of your right hand held flat, press against the top portion of the left breast. Using a circular or up and down motion, feel for lumps or thickened tissue. Moving in a clockwise direction, examine the entire breast, including the portion of breast tissue that extends into your armpit.

  3. 3.Gently squeeze the nipple and the darkened area surrounding the nipple. Note any discharge.

  4. 4.Examine the right breast, repeating steps 1 through 3.

You can also perform this exam while you’re standing in the shower. If you detect any abnormalities, contact your doctor.

Chapter 9
  1. Women’s Health Problems