Performing a self-breast exam
With about one in eight women developing invasive breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, it is important for women to have routine screenings to detect any abnormalities in their breasts. This is because when it comes to the effective treatment of breast cancer, early detection is essential.
Although staying up to date on your gynecological visits and having regular mammograms can help, it is important to perform self-exams at home between appointments.
How to check your breasts for abnormalities
All women should perform self-exams once each month to help keep track of any changes in their breast tissue that may otherwise go unnoticed.
How to position your fingers
With your three middle fingers together, use the pads/tips of your fingers to massage your breast tissue, feeling for any abnormalities. Using the opposite hand to breast, be sure to apply medium to firm pressure while moving your fingers in a circular motion as you scan your breast tissue. Remember to check the entirety of each breast as well as under your arms.
Changes to look out for
As you continue to familiarize yourself with what is normal for your breasts, it’s important for you to know what physical and visual changes may be a cause for alarm. While you perform your self-exam, look out for the following symptoms as they can be an early sign of breast cancer:
Lumps or hardened knots including around the breast, neck, and armpit areas;
Thickening of the skin;
Dimpling or puckering of the skin;
Changes in the color or shape of the nipple;
Changes that only affect one side;
Discharge from the nipple.
In order to make sure that you are thoroughly examining your breasts, check for these changes in the following positions as they affect the way your breast tissue and fat are distributed:
In the shower, standing up straight with your corresponding arm raised;
In the mirror with your arms by your side;
Lying down with the corresponding arm behind your head.
Women Services at Pleasant Valley Hospital is dedicated to providing women of all ages with the quality and compassionate care they deserve.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with women’s health nurse practitioner Kylie Scott, WHNP-BC, please call 304-857-6503.
This piece submitted by Pleasant Valley Hospital.
Kylie Scott is a women’s health nurse practitioner at Pleasant Valley Hospital.