Breast self-exam is a great way to detect one of the most common cancers among women in India. Regularly checking your breasts can help you diagnose early on symptoms. To check your breast, it is essential to first know about them, as there is no right or wrong way to examine them.
There are all kinds of breasts, with one, usually being bigger than the other. Certain breasts are also quite tender and lumpy in general. Sometimes they get a little lump near their armpit during periods, and that is quite standard for a good percentage of women.
Hence, it is important to keep few points in mind.
• Understand your standard breasts.
• Consult a doctor if you notice anything strange.
• Regularly consult a doctor for breast monitoring if you’re over 50.
Steps of self-examination
Step 1 – Look at your breast with your shoulder straight and arms on your upper hip. Look for any soar, rash, swelling or an inverted nipple (that is pushed in)
Step 2 – Raise your arms above your head and then do the same. Check for the symptoms mentioned above and any other fluid. Milk is, however, not included only if you’re a breastfeeding mother.
Step 3 – Lay down and feel your left breast with the right arm and right breast with left arm. Keep a firm touch and use a circular motion. Cover your entire breast, armpit, cleavage, and collarbone.
Step 4 – Check your breast while bathing. Touching your breast while you’re hands are slippery is the best way to examine them.
Changes to look out for
• Any change in the look or feel of the skin, like dimples or any crimp.
• A lump is any other area than usual.
• Nipple discharge that isn’t milky.
• Bleeding from a nipple.
• A red spot that doesn’t heal fast enough.
• Any change in nipple’s appearance.
• Any strange pain in your breast.
If you find a lump
Don’t get anxious – Many women have lumps in their breasts like mentioned before. So, this might be quite normal for you if you don’t already know what your breasts feel like.
Consult a doctor – It is always great to consult a doctor and leave everything to the professionals rather than assuming the worst. You must ask them all the questions that are floating in your head and get relief.
How to Set a Routine
• Make a habit of examining your breasts once a month to get familiarize with it. Try to check your breasts 5 days after your period ends, when it isn’t so tender and lumpy.
• Track the findings by keeping a journal of what you feel and where you see lumps and bumps if you find any. Write in detail about your nipple color and positioning etc. It would be easier for you to rely on these results in the future to compare or to present it to a doctor.
• According to the Union Health Ministry, breast cancer ranks as the number one cancer among Indian women, with 17,97,900 diagnosed with breast cancer. Hence, you need to keep a check.
It is quite important to understand that though self-examination is an excellent way to start, one should make a habit of visiting a doctor regularly. While checking our breasts, we all become self-biased and might not want to confront a problem that is clearly present and fall back to self-defense. Due to a lack of knowledge, individuals at times don’t even know what to expect from a given encounter.