Can you answer this critical question: “Do you know how to recognize the signs of breast cancer?” If you can’t, here are a few ways in which you can check your breasts and potentially save your life.
Start With a Physical Breast Exam
With your arms placed on your hips, make sure that your shoulders are straight, and then look at your breasts in the mirror. Ensure that there is no difference in the standard size, color, and shape of your breasts and that there is also no visible swelling or distortion. Also, check for redness, a rash, swelling, dimpling, puckering, or an inverted nipple.
Lift Your Arms Up
This is the next step that will help you perform a thorough examination. With one arm raised over your head, repeat the test in the first step with the free arm. Also, check to see if any fluid is coming out of either one nipple or both of them. This fluid could be yellow, milky, watery, or bloody.
Lie on a Flat Surface and Examine Your Breasts Again
Next, lie down and use your right hand to first feel your left breast, then use your left hand to feel the right breast. With a firm but smooth touch move your finger pads in circular motions, feeling for unusual lumps. Follow a pattern to ensure you have checked the whole breast, from the top to the bottom, or from one side to the other.
Stand or Sit For the Final Check
Finally, either sit or stand, depending on what you prefer, then repeat the self-examination. You could do this step in the shower because it is easier for most women when the skin is slippery and wet.
What if You Come Across a Lump?
If you do find a lump during the self-examination, there is no need to panic as most breast lumps are benign. They may be due to an injury, a non-hormonal change, or simply be a benign breast condition. If you notice a lump that lasts for more than a full menstrual cycle or one that seems to increase in size and prominence, it is crucial to see your doctor.
Set an Appointment
When you are setting an appointment to have your lump examined, it will be best if you can have it done by a doctor who knows you and has done a breast exam on you before. They will write down the history of your health then perform a physical exam. They will often call for an imaging test, such as an ultrasound, if you are under 30 years of age, or you are breastfeeding or pregnant. A mammogram may also be done for women who are over 30 years old and are neither pregnant nor breastfeeding.
Other breast cancer signs include swelling of the entire breast, pain in the breast or nipple, and swollen lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone. Knowing these signs and how to check for them can make a big difference, so perform regular exams and do not ignore worrisome signs.