According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc., taking a few minutes to do a breast self-exam a minimum of once a month can make a lifetime of difference. Nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams and with early detection the 5-year survival rate is 98%. If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but don't panic—8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous.
For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.
Remember: It's best to check about a week after your period, when breasts are not swollen or tender.
If you no longer have a period, examine yourself on the same day every month.
Breast Self-Exam 1: In the Shower
Wet, soapy hands makes it easier to slide your fingers over your skin and feel what's beneath the surface.
1. Use your right hand to examine your left breast, and your left hand to examine your right breast.
2. Holding your fingers flat, move the pads of the fingers gently over every part of each breast. Move fingers in small circles in an up-and-down pattern over the breast.
3. Check for any lump, hard knot, or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breast.
Breast Self-Exam 2: Lying Down
1. Place a pillow under your right shoulder, and fold your right arm behind your head.
2. With the pads of your fingers of the left hand, press right breast gently in small circular motions, moving in an up-and-down pattern across your whole breast. Use a combination of light and firm pressure.3. Don't neglect to gently check your nipple for lumps.
4. Repeat these steps for your left breast, beginning by placing the pillow under your left shoulder.
Breast Self-Exam 3: In front of a Mirror
Check for changes in the look and or shape of your breasts, including skin changes such as dimpling or nipple discharge. Continue to watch your breasts carefully as you
1. Stand with your arms relaxed at your sides.
2. Raise your arms overhead.
3. Place your hands on your hips and flex your chest muscles firmly.
4. Bend forward.
Right and left breasts may not match exactly -- most women's don't.
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