5 Steps to perform a breast self-examination

All women should get their breasts examined periodically. This examination helps in understanding the health of the breasts and not necessary only to check only for breast cancer.

To know if there are any changes in your breasts, you should first know how your breasts look or exist. You cannot look at your breasts suddenly one day and know whether there is any change or not. Breast self-examination plays a crucial role in the examination of breasts and helps detect breast cancer in its early stages.

Step 1 – Stand straight before a mirror

With your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips look for the following:

  • Whether the breasts are in the usual shape, size and color.
  • Whether they look uniform without any swelling or discoloration or any distortion that is visible.
  • Changes that you should be concerned about:
  • Inverted nipple, which is a nipple that is standing inwards instead of standing out.
  • Nipple or breast that has changed its shape.
  • Soreness, rash or swelling.
  • Dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin around the breasts.

Step 2 –Stand straight with hands above your head

  • Stand straight and raise the hands above your head and hold them together.

Changes that you should be concerned about:

  • The same changes as Step 1

Step 3 – Standing straight and observing nipples

  • Look if there is any secretion from the nipples.
  • Changes that you should be worried about:
  • Discharge or blood or yellow substance.

Step 4–Lying down

  • Feel your breasts while lying down starting from the nipples and moving outwards, using a circular motion. Use alternate hands to feel breasts on opposite sides.
  • Cover the entire area applying medium pressure from the armpit till the cleavage, covering the entire breasts.

Changes that you should be worried about:

  • Lumps
  • Hard tissue
  • Anything that stands out from the regular breast tissue.

Step 5 – In the shower

  • A lot of women prefer to check their breasts while in the shower as it is easier to self-examine when the skin is wet.
  • Feel the entire area of the breasts from the armpit till the cleavage for anything unusual.

Changes that you should be worried about:

  • Same changes as in Step 4
  • If you feel anything wrong in your self-examination, do visit your doctor immediately to rule out the worst. And if cancer is diagnosed, the earlier its discovered the better as you can then fight it off easier.

Written by: Rasha Ashraf