Doing a self breast exam each month is an important part of women’s health. Experts agree that women who do a monthly breast exam are more likely to notice changes in their breast tissue and can talk to their doctor about these changes.
How to do a Self Breast Exam
You can complete a self breast exam in a few minutes each month. Most women start self breast exams around age 20.
- Examine your breasts while standing in the shower. Use your right hand to examine your left breast, and your left hand to examine your right breast. Using a few fingers in a small circular motion, examine from top to bottom and side to side using a pattern. Use light pressure to feel the top lay, medium pressure to feel the middle, and firm pressure to feel the back breast tissue. Be sure to examine the entire breast.
- Examine your breasts while standing, and looking in the mirror. First stand with your hands on your hips and check for shape, size and color and note anything that is abnormal for you. Then, raise your arms in the air and look for the same changes.
- And lastly, examine your breasts one-by-one while lying down on your back. Use the same method used in the shower – a circular motion from top to bottom and side to side with increases in pressure to feel different parts of the breast.
Report anything unusual
If you notice anything abnormal, call your doctor immediately. Any changes in your breast tissue need to be reported. Up to 40% of diagnosed cases of breast cancer were found by women doing self breast exams. Regular exams are important. The more familiar you are with your breast tissue the more likely you are to notice something out of the ordinary.
Breast Cancer screenings
Once you reach age 40, you need to start regular breast cancer screenings, which include mammograms. If there is a history of breast cancer in your family, you may want to talk to your doctor about prevention and when you need to start screenings.