While many women rely strictly on mammograms and ultrasound screenings to detect breast cancer, the breast self-exam (BSE) is also an effective method of early detection. It’s true that not all cancers can be found through BSE, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an essential step you should do to take care of yourself and your body. This week, we’re here to give you all the info, and a few tips, you need for a comfortable and effective breast self-exam.
A study done by Johns Hopkins Medical Center found that around 40% of diagnosed breast cancers are first found by women themselves. Mammograms and ultrasound tests have the ability to detect tumors before any symptoms may occur, but having more familiarity with your breasts is also an important part of early detection. Knowing how your breast look and feel can help you to notice where there are changes and abnormalities, giving you the ability to take action sooner.
You should be performing a breast self-exam at least one time per month. You can do it at any time, but it’s suggested to check one week after your period starts when swelling and sensitivity are less. If you have irregular periods, set a calendar reminder to perform a BSE on the same day each month.
A when doing breast self-exam, it’s important to check all over the area. Here’s a breakdown of the various steps for a thorough exam.
It is possible to find a lump as small as 3mm while conducting a thorough breast self-exam, but many signs may be more obvious than that. To start, here’s what you should look out for:
If you find any of these symptoms the first thing to do is DON’T PANIC! Keep in mind that there is a natural “lumpiness” to your breast tissue, and what you should be checking is changes to that inherent lumpiness. Set up an appointment with your doctor if you notice any changes, but remember that the majority of lumps found in breast tissue are benign.
Need reminders on how and when to do your BSE? Set a repeating reminder on your mobile device every month and take the guesswork out of the “when.” If you need a refresher as to the how, download and print a visual guide to the breast self-exam. And as always, if you’d like more info or would like to talk to someone about breast cancer and breast self-exams, the medical professionals at Miami Center of Excellence are always here for you.