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Think Pink in October: How To Do A Breast Self-Exam

by Chantel DaCosta Oct 4, 2021

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Breast cancer exam

One way to check your breasts for changes, such as lumps or thickenings, is to do a self-exam. Look at, and feel, both breasts. If you notice anything unusual, please tell your doctor.

Here are the steps to follow to do a breast self-exam:

  • Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Pay close attention to your breasts, it is time to observe the size, shape, and colours. See if you recognise any changes, bulging of the skin, redness, swelling, change in the nipples.
  • Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
  • Look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples. This could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood.
  • Next, lie flat on your back. Using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, and, side to side, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast.
  • Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Some women find it easier to feel the differences when the skin is wet. You can do this in the shower if that is where you are most comfortable. Cover your entire breast in the same way described in step four.

The breast self-exam is not meant to replace breast cancer screening. However, it is important to become familiar with the way your breasts normally look and feel.

If you feel anything abnormal, contact your doctor immediately.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and PreventionEveryday HealthAmerican Cancer SocietyInternational Journal for Equity in HealthSusan G Komen.