Self-exam: 11 steps to check for breast cancer
A breast self-exam is a check-up a woman does at home to look for changes or problems in the breast tissue, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Your goal is get used to the feel of your breasts. This will help you find anything new or different. If you do, call your doctor right away.
The 11 steps below can help you do a breast self-exam at home:
1. The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Do it at the same time every month. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
2. If you have gone through menopause, do your exam on the same day every month.
3. Begin by lying on your back. It is easier to examine all breast tissue if you are lying down.
4. Place your right hand behind your head. With the middle fingers of your left hand, gently yet firmly press down using small motions to examine the entire right breast.
5. Next, sit or stand. Feel your armpit, because breast tissue goes into that area.
6. Gently squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge. Repeat the process on the left breast.
Check this diagram to make sure you are covering all of the breast tissues.
7. Next, stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your side.
8. Look at your breasts directly and in the mirror. Look for changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering, indentations, or skin that looks like an orange peel.
9. Also note the shape and outline of each breast.
10. Check to see if the nipple turns inward.
11. Do the same with your arms raised above your head.
Please note: The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment. So it's important to check your breasts regularly, and see your doctor if you notice a change.
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Note on COVID-19 pandemic:
If you have warning signs of breast cancer, it’s important to see a doctor, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials urge patients to not put off seeing a doctor if you notice a change in your breast or underarm area.
Learn more about self-exams below: