Breast self-examination, or routinely checking your own breasts, may be a significant approach to detect breast cancer early, when it is more likely to be effectively treated. 

Doing breast self-examinations in conjunction with other screening techniques may boost the likelihood of early diagnosis even if no one test can catch all breast cancers in their early stages.

The effectiveness of breast self-examination in identifying breast cancer early and improving survival rates has been disputed throughout time.

We continue to hold that breast self-examination is a valuable and significant screening tool, particularly when combined with routine physical examinations by a doctor, mammography, and sometimes ultrasound and/or MRI.

Each of these screening instruments operates differently and has advantages and disadvantages. Breast self-examination is a simple, free tool that you may use whenever you choose, regardless of your age. We advise all women to regularly self-examine their breasts as a part of their overall breast cancer screening plan.

Breast Changes To Look Out For During Breast Self Examination

Some changes in the breasts can be felt by a woman or her doctor, but most can only be found with an imaging test like a mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound. Breast self-exams are not a replacement for mammograms.

Here are some signs that something is wrong with your breasts. 

  • A knot or hard lump near your underarm
  • Changes in how your breasts look or feel, such as thickening or a fullness that stands out from the rest of the tissue.
  • If your breast skin has dimples, puckers, bulges, or ridges
  • A recent change in a nip is that it is now pushed in instead of sticking out.
  • Pain, redness, heat, or swelling
  • Itchy, flaky, sore, or rashy skin
  • Bloody nipple discharge

    Your doctor may suggest more tests and procedures, like a clinical breast exam, mammogram, or ultrasound, to look into changes in your breasts. 

The five stages to doing a breast self-examination –

Note Before You Start: 

  • A monthly self-breast inspection is best performed 3 to 5 days after your period begins. Every month, do it at the same time. 
  • At this point in your monthly cycle, your breasts are not as painful or lumpy.

  • If you have gone into menopause, schedule your checkup on the same day each month.

Step 1 Position your arms on your hips and keep your shoulders straight as you start by gazing at your breasts in the mirror.

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What to watch out for is as follows:

Typical breasts in terms of size, shape, and color breasts with a consistent contour and no obvious dilation or enlargement.

Bring the following changes to your doctor’s attention if you see them:

  • Skin that is dimpling, puckering, or bulging a nipple that is inverted or that has shifted positions (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Bruising, rash, or swelling that is red.

Step 2: Raise your arms now, and check for alterations.

Breast Self-Exam - National Breast Cancer Foundation

Step 3: Check your nipples in the mirror to see whether there is any fluid flowing from one or both of them (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Breast Screening – Self-Exam and Mammogram

Step 4

Next, while laying down, feel your breasts with your right hand on your left breast and your left hand on your right breast. Keep your fingers flat and close together while applying a firm, smooth touch to the first few finger pads of your hand. Make a quarter-sized circular motion while applying the product.

Breast cancer awareness and practice of breast self examination among women  of childbearing age – Dutable

From your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage, cover the whole breast from top to bottom and side to side.

To ensure that you cover the whole breast, follow a pattern. Starting at the nipple, you may make increasing-sized circles until you reach the breast’s outer border. You may also mow a lawn by arranging your fingers in rows and moving them vertically up and down. The majority of women tend to respond well to this up-and-down strategy. Make careful to feel the tissue in each area of your breasts, from the front to the back: apply light pressure on the skin and tissue immediately underneath, medium pressure on the tissue in the center of your breasts, and hard pressure on the deep tissue in the rear. You should be able to feel all the way to your ribs after you’ve reached the deep tissue.

Step 5: Finally, whether standing or sitting, feel your breasts. Many females choose to do this step in the shower since they discover that it is simplest to feel their breasts when their skin is moist and slick. Using the same hand motions as in step 4, completely cover your breast.

Breast Self-examination

Here Are Changes in your Breasts that are not cancer But Can happen during your life.

Most women’s breasts change at different times throughout their lives.

  • Your breasts may feel swollen, tender, or painful before or during your period. Because of the extra fluid in your breasts, you may also feel one or more lumps during this time. Your doctor may want you to come back at a different time in your menstrual cycle to check on the lump and see if it has changed.
  •  
  • During pregnancy, you might feel like your breasts are lumpy. Most of the time, this is because the number and size of the glands that make milk are growing. You might get mastitis if you breastfeed for a long time. When a milk duct gets clogged up, this happens. When you have mastitis, your breast looks red and feels lumpy, warm, and painful. It can be caused by an infection, and antibiotics are often used to treat it. The duct may need to be drained sometimes.
     
  • As you approach menopause, your hormone levels change. Even when you’re not having your period, this can make your breasts feel sore. You may also notice that your breasts feel lumpier than they did before.
     
  • If you take hormones, like those in birth control pills, hormone therapy for menopause, or injections, your breasts may get fuller. This can make it harder to figure out what a mammogram means. If you are taking hormones, be sure to tell your doctor or nurse.
     
  • After menopause, your hormone levels drop. You may no longer have lumps, pain, or discharge from your nipple.

References:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001993.htm