Breast Self Exam
Breast self examination is a part of screening and usually it is done by self initially to detect any signs of cancer early on. The benefit of an early diagnosis by a self breast exam is that an early detection improves the chances of a good prognosis as the correct treatment therapy can be administered arresting the further spread of cancer. Yes even though every type of cancer cannot be diagnosed with a self exam but it sure does help.
Breast self examination is a debated screening tool with one school subscribing to the fact that it is an unnecessary evaluation technique which does not directly affects reduction in the mortality rate due to the disease. Also on the contrary it increases stress among women leading to biopsies which are not required. Then there is second school of thought that stresses upon its importance in being an excellent screening tool when applied in combination with imaging techniques like mammography and ultrasound
Importants Points to Keep in Mind for BSE
It is not initially a very popular technique with women as one does not know exactly what one s looking for and sometimes one is not able to comprehend as to what is one feeling. But slowly the process grows on an individual and with practice one realizes the normal and the abnormal growth. It helps in significantly lowering a woman’s risk of breast cancer advancement.
- A woman should develop a habit of monthly breast self examination. This will help the woman to understand the normal tissue structure of her breasts. This examination should ideally be done after a few days of the completion of menstrual cycle.
- A lump is not necessarily a cancerous growth or a tumor. Some breasts are naturally having lumps – which is normal tissue.
- The breasts surrounding tissue also needs to be felt in a BSE as the cancer may be growing in lymph nodes near the collar bone or the armpits. And these areas have the most distinctive lumps. The nipples feel like they are made up of grains while the lower half of the breast feels like pebbles or sandy beach.
- Once a woman is aware of how her breasts feel like, any abnormal dense tissue growth or lump can easily be felt distinctively by the woman.
- Keeping a diary with your finding can also help with dates. Because during different days in a month the breasts feel different due to hormonal changes. These changes can be tracked and any abnormal growth can be recorded.
The Five Steps of a Breast Self Exam
- The first step is to look at the breasts in the mirror. The position should be a standing position with shoulders straight and the arms resting on the hips. The observations to make are: firstly the appearance – skin texture of the breast. it should not look textured or dimply or there should be any bulging of the skin. Secondly the shape and size of the breast should be normal and regular with no visible distortion, inverted nipple or swelling. Lastly the skin of the breasts should not appear reddish and tender. In case of any adverse observation, one needs to consult a doctor
- The second step is to raise the arms above from the hip position and hold them together over your head. Now again look closely for any visible adverse signs as described above.
- The third step is to look closely for any nipple discharge or secretion which may be yellow, watery or milky fluid. Examination of both the nipples should be done.
- The fourth step is to manually feel your breast. for this step the position will change to a lying down position. Right hand should be used to examine left breast and vice versa. The fingers should be brought together and the breast examined in circular motion. The whole breast and the surrounding area should be covered. From the top of the abdomen to the collar bone and the armpits. The whole breast should be covered in the examination. One can start from the nipple and reach the edges in circular motion of fingers. It is important that no part is missed. For the tissue on the top a light pressure examination is all right, medium pressure for the next level and
- Lastly the fourth step can be repeated indifferent position like standing and sitting.
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