Some women are afraid to do a breast self-exam, because it might mean bad news. Thankfully, statistics show that most breast changes and lumps are not cancerous. If there is cancer present, it’s better to detect it in the early stages, so treatment is more effective.
Call your doctor if you find a lump or thickening, have nipple discharge, or if the breast is red, swollen, and warm to the touch.
Here are 3 helpful guidelines to perform a breast self-exam:
Choose the Same Day
Women in menopause are encouraged to do a monthly breast self-exam, so choose the same day each month. This is important because you may have hormone fluctuations, and keeping the same schedule helps you determine if a change is normal or something that a doctor needs to check out.
Perform Exam in the Shower
It can be easier to detect changes in breast tissue when the skin is wet and slippery. Place your hand behind your head, and with the pads of your three middle fingers, use circular motions to examine the entire breast and armpit area. Repeat on the other side.
Use light pressure to start with, and then work up to firm. Squeeze the nipple to check for any type of discharge.
Try a Different Position
Lying down on a couch or bed lets you get familiar with how your breasts feel in a different position. You want the breast tissue to be evenly distributed on your chest, so place a towel or pillow under your shoulder. Follow the same steps that you did with the shower exam.