You are your own breast friend. Monthly breast self exams (BSE) can help you spot any lumps or changes in tissue that can signal early signs of breast cancer. Use our easy checklist, based on recommendations from the American Cancer Society and Whizz right through it.
What to look for
Basically, any change in the shape or size of the breast or unusual marks, such as:
1. Unexplained swelling or shrinking on one side
2. Recent asymmetry (many women have one slightly larger breast, but if it this is a new thing, check it out)
3. A nipple that is slightly inward or inverted
4. Swelling, redness, scaling or dimpling of the skin
5. Unusual discharge
Pick a day of the month
Hormonal fluctuations can change breast tissue, so pick the same day every month so you can tell the difference between a normal change and something worth a checkup. Best day is the end of your period, when your breasts are the least tender and your hormones have balanced out.
Stand in front of the mirror
Keep your shoulders straight and your arms on the hip and check for the symptoms above. Lift your arms for another look. All good? Fantastic!
Now for a closer look. Use your right hand to feel your left breast, and left hand to feel your right breast. With a firm, smooth touch and fingers flat and kept together, feel for any lumps. Move in small, circular motions from top to bottom and side to side. Start from your collarbone to your abdomen, and then your armpit to your cleavage. Some women like to move from top to bottom, like a lawn-mower. Whatever works for you!
Increase pressure on the medium tissue in the middle of your reasts, and deep pressure on the skin near your back (enough to make you feel your ribcage). But no jabs that makes you yelp in pain – you’re looking for lumps, not mining for gold.
Repeat the test while sitting or standing up.
Oh no, I found a lump!
First, don’t panic. Most often, these symptoms are not cancer, but they should be checked out by a doctor so the problem can be diagnosed and treated.
All clear – everything’s normal!
We’re just as happy and relieved as you are to hear that! Pat yourself on the back for being so proactive about your health. Share this info with your friends so they’ll enjoy that feeling too.