Monthly breast self-exams and annual screenings (if you’re of age) are key to finding cancer before it starts to cause symptoms. Doctors say early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests. Here are 6 steps to conduct your monthly breast self-exams at home.
1. Stand in front of a mirror and inspect both breasts for anything unusual. If you spot any discharge residue around your nipples, puckering, dimpling or scaling of the skin, take a photo,
and contact your doctor.
2. While looking in the mirror, clasp your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. You should feel your chest muscles tightening. Look for any change in the shape or contour of your breasts.
3. Press your hands on your hips and slightly bow towards the mirror as you pull your shoulders and elbows forward. Again, you should feel the muscles in your chest tighten and you’re looking for any visual changes.
4. Raise your left arm and using three or four fingers of your right hand, inspect your breast. Press the flat part of your fingers in small circles and move slowly around the breast. Start on the outside and work your way toward the nipple. Pay special attention to the area between the breast and the armpit and the armpit itself. You’re feeling for any unusual lumps or mass under the skin. Repeat on the right breast with your left fingers.
5. Gently squeeze each nipple and look for a discharge. If you have discharge take note of the color and the consistency.
6. Steps 4 and 5 should be repeated lying down. Lie flat on your back with your right arm over your head and a pillow or folded towel under your left shoulder. This flat position will make your left breast easier to examine. Use the same technique described earlier and repeat on the right breast.