How To Do A Breast Self
Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here’s what you should look for:
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
|Breast Self-Exam Step 1|
How Do You Get Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
Symptoms To Look Out For
Some people with breast cancer experience no symptoms. In some cases, however, changes may start to occur from an early stage. People should speak with a doctor about their screening plan if they have any concerns.
It is also worth noting that not all breast lumps are breast cancer, and not every case of breast cancer involves a lump. For these reasons, people should attend regular screening as a doctor recommends.
Breast cancer can cause changes in the lymph nodes in the early stages.
To check the lymph nodes, look for:
- a lump, swelling, or thickening around the underarm
- a lump or swelling in the collarbone area
- a thickening of the skin in the armpit
Lymph node involvement can also result in a rash on the breast in people with inflammatory breast cancer.
A person should contact a doctor about these or any other unexplained changes, especially if they only seem to affect one breast.
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How To Check For Breast Cancer
Doru Paul, MD, is triple board-certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine. He is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and attending physician in the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center.
It’s important that every woman knows how to do a breast self-examination , as it can help in early detection of breast cancer, such as lumps, nipple changes, and more.
Being familiar with what is normal for you will make it easier to recognize any new developments. Furthermore, knowing what’s not normal for anyone can help prompt you to bring such issues to your doctor’s attention, should you notice them during your BSE.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Is There A Particular Time Of The Month I Should Do Breast Self
Women should do a breast self-exam once a month, every month. Women who are still menstruating should perform a breast self-exam after their period. Women who have stopped menstruating and those who have very irregular periods can pick a day each month. Choose a day that is consistent and easy to remember, like the first day of the month, the last day of the month or your favorite number.
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How Do I Do A Breast Self
If you choose to do one, follow these steps:
In the mirror:
In the shower:
Ask Your Doctor For A Survivorship Care Plan
Talk with your doctor about developing a survivorship care plan for you. This plan might include:
- A suggested schedule for follow-up exams and tests
- A schedule for other tests you might need in the future, such as early detection tests for other types of cancer, or tests to look for long-term health effects from your cancer or its treatment
- A list of possible late- or long-term side effects from your treatment, including what to watch for and when you should contact your doctor
- Diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle modification suggestions
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How Do You Perform A Breast Self
Performing a self-exam can help you understand what is normal for you so you can more easily detect when something is out of the ordinary. To perform a breast self-exam, follow these steps:
Step 1: Observe
The first part is visual examination, or to simply observe. Stand shirtless in front of the mirror and check the breast for dimpling, puckering, discoloration, and any other symptoms or noticeable changes. Inspect your breasts while you are standing straight, with arms raised above your head, and afterward, with your hands on your hips. Turn from side to side and bend forward in each position to check thoroughly.
Step 2: Feel for lumps with your three middle fingers
After observation, feel for changes using the finger pads of the three middle fingers. Use the opposite hand from the breast you are examining this means feeling the right breast with your left hand, and vice versa. Check for lumps and thickening in each breast, including the area below the collarbone and under the armpit.
Step 3: Feel for lumps with an up-and-down motion
Then, support a breast with one hand and use the other hand to feel for any lumps using an up-and-down motion. Cover the entire breast area.
Step 4: Repeat up-and-down motion for both breasts
Repeat the process for the other breast.
Step 5: Lie down and feel for lumps with circular or up-and-down motions
“Having larger breasts may make it take longer to examine the breast, but the techniques and concept are the same,” says Abe.
How Will I Get The Test Results
After a radiologist has examined your x-rays, you will find out about your test results in the following ways:
- if you were referred by your family doctor, your doctor will hear from the screening site and communicate that information to you.
- if you were screened through the Ontario Breast Screening Program, and your test results were normal, you will get your test in the mail two weeks after your mammogram. Your doctor will receive a copy of the letter as well.
- if you were screened through the Ontario Breast Screening Program and your test results were inconclusive or further testing is required, you will get a phone call from the program two weeks after your mammogram. Your doctor will receive the results as well.
Getting test results back is often nerve-wracking. Its important to take care of yourself when you are finding out the results. Consider calling a friend, family member or partner to open the letter with you.
If your test results are negative, this means that no signs of breast cancer were found. Most people have a normal result after screening. You will receive a letter in two years reminding you that it is time to get a mammogram again.
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What Are The Stages Of Breast Cancer
There are 5 stages of breast cancer:Stage 0: Non-invasive breast cancer no evidence whether the cancer is spreading in neighboring regionsStage 1 4: Varying stages of invasive cancer which starts spreading to nearby tissuesDoctors use various sophisticated techniques to determine which stage cancer you have.
What To Do If You Find A Lump
Dont panic if you think you feel a lump in your breast. Most women have some lumps or lumpy areas in their breasts all the time, and most breast lumps turn out to be benign . There are a number of possible causes of non-cancerous breast lumps, including normal hormonal changes, a benign breast condition, or an injury.
Dont hesitate to call your doctor if youve noticed a lump or other breast change that is new and worrisome. This is especially true for changes that last more than one full menstrual cycle or seem to get bigger or more prominent in some way. If you menstruate, you may want to wait until after your period to see if the lump or other breast change disappears on its own before calling your doctor. The best healthcare provider to call would be one who knows you and has done a breast exam on you before for example, your gynecologist, primary care doctor, or a nurse practitioner who works with your gynecologist or primary care doctor.
Make sure you get answers. Its important that your doctor gives you an explanation of the cause of the lump or other breast change and, if necessary, a plan for monitoring it or treating it. If youre not comfortable with the advice of the first doctor you see, dont hesitate to get a second opinion.
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Test #: Monitoring For Visual Symptoms Of Lymphedema
The first visual sign of lymphedema is unexplained swelling in one arm that usually appears during the day or with physical activity and goes away with elevation or overnight.
The usual way that patients discover they have lymphedema is simply by noticing unexplained swelling in the arm on their breast cancer side compared to their other arm, and asking their doctor about it. But since this early swelling usually starts small and will often go away if the arm is elevated or after sleeping, an uninformed patient might miss it or ignore it at first. This is detrimental. The sooner it is noticed, the sooner professional advice can be sought, the sooner treatment and self-management can be initiated, and the better your outcome.
Hopefully you were told by your health care team to watch for swelling after your breast cancer treatment. Although it can be challenging to detect early lymphedema visually, this test is very easy to perform, and with a few helpful pointers can be made reasonably effective. Below I describe the best way to visually monitor for lymphedema.
Why Do Oncologists Rarely Say Someone Is Cured
Most people who are breast cancer survivors will fall into the first three categories in the table above, as oncologists will rarely use the word cured for people with solid tumors, even if a cancer was in the very early stages of the disease. Your healthcare provider may say you are in remission or that you are NED .
With breast cancer, the term cured is usually reserved for those with ductal carcinoma in situ .
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How To Give Yourself A Breast Exam In Five Easy Steps
Some 40 percent of breast cancers are discovered by women, during breast self-exams. Thats a big number, and it shows how important a self-exam can be. Although the idea of a monthly self-check can feel daunting, you dont have to make it complicated and you don’t need to be an expert on breast cancer to do yourself a great deal of good with a quick and easy exam. All you really need to know are a few simple techniques.
The goal is to remember how your breasts look and feel normally, which makes it easier to spot or feel anything abnormal if it appears. If you do notice that something has changed, call your doctor but dont panic. Many changes we notice in our breasts are harmless.
In fact, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. Says Dr. Lacy Parker, an OB-GYN at Lakeside Womens Hospital, “Women are most likely to detect breast changes, but not all of the lumps identified will be cancer. That’s why it is important to seek an exam by a physician promptly when you note a change. Your doctor will determine what further testing you require.”
Ideally, you should do a self-check every month. Do it at the same time every month, or pick a specific day of the month you can always remember, like your own birthday .
Categorizations Of Breast Cancer Survivors
Many cancer organizations find the current definition of breast cancer survivorship too broad. The definition applies those who have just been diagnosed and those who are 20-year survivors into the same group. From a clinical standpoint, not all breast cancer survivors are alike.
To specifically designate where someone is in their breast cancer journey, some oncologists use different functional terms. For example, there are people who are acute survivors and those that are long-term survivors. There is also an area in the middle in which people have had their breast cancer for some time but are still in either active treatment, or receiving maintenance or preventive treatment.
Here’s a sense of how breast cancer survivors may be categorized:
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Know What Is Normal For You
It’s important to know what is normal for you. Your breasts will go through many normal changes during your life. For example, they are affected by changes in your hormones during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy and breast-feeding and menopause.
- Your menstrual cycle: Each month, when you are having periods, your breasts often change. They can become bigger, tender and lumpy usually before a period starts and return to normal once the period is over. Some women, however, may have tender, lumpy breasts throughout their cycle.
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding: The changes that occur during your menstrual cycle continue during pregnancy. While breast-feeding, your breasts may be very enlarged, firm and tender this is normal at this time. However, you should continue to check your breasts and discuss any unusual changes with your GP.
- Menopause: After the menopause your breasts will feel softer and they may get bigger or smaller. If there is a change in only one breast, you should discuss this with your doctor. HRT hormone replacement therapy may cause your breasts to feel firmer and quite tender.
Easy Steps To Do Your Diy Breast Self
Doing a DIY breast self-check every month helps you to understand and be familiar with the condition of your breast
Step 1: Look
Put your hands on your hips and look out for changes in breast shape, skin surface and nipple abnormalities. Raise your arms above your head to look for changes on the underside of your breast.
Step 2: Touch
Touch and feel your breast using your middle 3 fingers, moving in a circular motion from outer area towards the nipple. Gently squeeze your nipple to check for any discharge.
Repeat this step for your other breast
Step 3: Check
Check for lumps by examining your entire breast from your armpit to your cleavage with different pressure.
Repeat this step for your other breast.
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How To Conduct A Self
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women should begin by standing topless in front of a mirror and doing a visual inspection to confirm that there are no noticeable differences in the breasts, like puckering or changes in size, then find a methodical technique to make sure the whole breast area is examined.
Axelrod recommends using the pads of the fingers, avoiding pressing with fingernails, and applying different levels of pressure to see if the feeling or response is any different.
“Make sure that you’re covering the entire area, because breasts really can extend from the clavicle to below the bra line and from the breastbone to the underarm,” she explained. “It can encompass a wide area.”
She also recommended finding a quiet moment in the day to do the breast exam. While examining, lie down and raise the arm of the breast being examined above the head and do the exam with the opposite hand.
“Do it on the first of the month, or whenever you pay your bills, or whenever is a consistent time to remember,” Axelrod said.
“We have never proven that this saves lives. We’ve never shown that it is effective as a screening tool,” she continued. “But if you have a young woman, where you’re not doing anything this is free, this is convenient, it doesn’t cost anything. She might as well know that something could be different.”
Women should conduct a self-exam every few months, Axelrod said.
Other Important Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Unfortunately, there are also a number of important breast cancer risk factors that women have no control over. Knowing which ones apply to you can help you understand your risk and do what you can to lower it. If you feel youre at high risk, talk to a doctor or other health professional. These can increase a womans breast cancer risk:
- Older age, especially 60 years or over
- Family history of breast cancer
- First menstrual period before age 12
- Menopause at age 55 or over
- First childbirth after age 35
- No children
- Tall height
- Dense breasts
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