Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and the second most common cancer overall. While it can’t be prevented, it’s highly treatable if detected early. In addition to receiving regular breast exams from your gynecologist, breast self-exams are essential for ensuring early detection. Consult the following guide to learn how to conduct a breast exam and what to look out for when you do.
How to Perform a Breast Exam at Home
Breast self-exams should be performed monthly, about a week after the end of your menstrual period. It can be helpful to think of your self-exam as having three components—a visual inspection, a standing exam, and an exam while lying down.
During the visual inspection, examine your breasts both with your arms raised above your head and while they are down at your sides. Next, while standing up and then while lying down, perform a manual exam. The best way to do this is to move your hand in a gentle circular motion across your entire chest, from your armpit to your sternum, and from your collarbone to your abdomen.
Many women prefer to conduct their standing self-exam while in the shower because their skin is wet and slippery, making it easier to feel bumps.
What to Look Out For
When you examine your breasts in front of the mirror, look for irregularities such as swelling, dimpling, or puckering, as well as any changes to the size, shape, or color or your nipples. If you notice changes in appearance or texture, you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist right away.
You should also make an appointment if you feel any new or changing lump, knot, or thickened tissue during your manual self-exams. While lumps and breast changes are often caused by benign factors such as hormonal changes, it’s important to have your doctor examine you in case it’s an early indication of breast cancer.
For more information on breast self-exams, get in touch with Oswego County OB-GYN, PC. For 60 years, this women’s health center has provided a wide range of OB-GYN services to patients in Oswego County , including annual breast and pelvic exams. Visit their website to learn more about their services and call (315) 343-2590 to schedule an appointment today.