While women over 40 should get regular mammograms to check for breast cancer, women of all ages can check for breast cancer symptoms at home. Breast self-exams are an easy way to look for early signs of breast cancer. Even if you are in your twenties, regularly self-examining your breasts can help you understand what is normal so if something abnormal comes up, you’ll notice. Here is how to check for breast cancer symptoms with a breast self-exam.
Breast Self-Exam Steps
The first step in abreast self-exam is just that: examining your breasts. Stand in front of a mirror with your shoulders back and your hands on your hips. Your breasts should be their typical size, shape, and color. Breast cancer symptoms to look for include dimpled or puckered skin, inverted nipples, redness, or a rash.
Next, raise your arms above your head. Look for the same signs: swelling, bulging, redness, etc. Check for any fluid as well. There shouldn’t be fluid coming from your nipples unless you are breastfeeding.
Then you should continue your breast self-exam lying down. Use your right hand to check your left breast and your left hand to check your right breast. Press firmly in a circular motion with your first few fingers. Make sure you examine your entire breast. Going in a regular pattern, like starting at one side and going across or in the middle and moving outward, can help you keep track.
It is also important that you are feeling all of the tissue in your breasts. This means you need to use a lighter touch for the tissue near the surface of your skin and more pressure for the tissue all the way in the back. You should be able to feel your ribs beneath your breast while feeling the deepest tissue.
The final step is to feel your breasts either while standing or sitting. Use the same hand motions as before. Many people chose to do this last step in the shower when the skin is wet. Repeat these steps for a breast self-exam every month to maintain good breast health.
Signs of Breast Cancer
There are many different breast cancer symptoms. Breast self-exams mostly check for lumps. While a lump in the breast could be a tumor, it is normal for breasts to be lumpy. That is why it is important to do breast self-exams regularly if they are going to be part of your plan to check for signs of breast cancer. If you notice a new lump that was not there before, that is when you should contact your doctor.
Other signs of breast cancer to look for include a new lump in the armpit, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, irritated or dimpled breast skin, redness or flaky skin especially in the nipple area, and nipple discharge. Any of these breast cancer symptoms should be reported to a doctor promptly. While no one sign definitely means you have breast cancer, it is better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Depending on your findings, they may perform their own breast exam or use scans like an MRI or mammogram to check for tumors.
Need a doctor to report your breast cancer symptoms to?
Found a new lump in your breast and not sure who to call? BASS Medical Group can help. Their elite team is made up of doctors who are experts in their respective fields. BASS Medical Group has many convenient locations in the greater San Francisco area. Call (925) 350-4044 to learn more or schedule an appointment.