Breast self-exam (BSE) is a simple and important step in maintaining breast health. It is a technique that women can use to examine their breasts for any unusual changes or lumps. Early detection of breast cancer through BSE can help women receive prompt medical attention and increase the chances of successful treatment.
How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam
Performing a BSE is a simple and straightforward process. Follow these steps to perform a breast self-exam:
Step 1: Lie down on your back and place a pillow under your right shoulder.
Step 2: Using your left hand, use the pads of your fingers to examine your right breast. Start at the outer edge of your breast and move your fingers inwards, using small circular motions. Make sure to cover the entire breast and feel for any lumps, thickening, or hardened knots.
Step 3: Move your fingers to the armpit area and examine it for any lumps or thickening.
Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 on your left breast.
Step 5: Stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your sides. Look at your breasts and check for any changes in size, shape, or texture. Also, look for any changes in the skin, such as redness or dimpling.
Step 6: Raise your arms and look for the same changes as in step 5.
Step 7: Gently squeeze each nipple and check for any discharge.
It is important to perform a breast self-exam regularly, ideally once a month. It is recommended to perform the exam a few days after your period when your breasts are less tender and swollen.
The Importance of Regular Breast Self-Exams
Regular breast self-exams are important because they can help detect breast cancer early, which can increase the chances of successful treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer that is detected early has a five-year survival rate of 99 percent.
It is important to note that BSE is not a substitute for clinical breast exams or mammograms. Women should also have regular clinical breast exams performed by a healthcare professional and mammograms as recommended by their doctor.
FAQs About Breast Self-Exams
Q: When should I perform a breast self-exam?
A: It is recommended to perform the exam once a month, a few days after your period when your breasts are less tender and swollen.
Q: What should I do if I find a lump during my breast self-exam?
A: If you find a lump or any unusual changes during your exam, make an appointment with your healthcare provider for further evaluation.
Q: Are all breast lumps cancerous?
A: No, not all breast lumps are cancerous. In fact, most breast lumps are benign (non-cancerous). However, it is important to have any lump or changes evaluated by a healthcare professional.