How Do I Examine My Breasts
When it comes to checking your breasts for anything unusual, the NHS says it can be helpful to stand in front of a mirror.
First, it suggests examining your breasts for any visual changes and to look with your arms by your side and also with them raised.
Then, you should continue by feeling each breast, checking everywhere theres breast tissue, including underneath your armpit and all the way up to your collarbone.
Breast Awareness And Knowing Your Normal
So where does this leave us seven years later?
The answer is that experts want individuals to shift the focus from breast “self-exam” to breast “self-awareness.”
Years ago, what we found was that many women were concerned about technique when they practiced self-exams, says Spring Piatek, an advanced practice nurse at the Northwestern Medicine High Risk Breast Clinic in Winfield, Illinois. They were concerned about subtle lumps or bumps which were normal breast tissue. They would raise concerns with provider and there would be a lot of unnecessary exams, visits, and calls.
Instead, healthcare professionals are committed to demystifying the breast self-exam.
In short, their message remains: Know your body.
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Unusual Changes To Look For
Consider how your breasts normally look and feel, Piatek says. We want women to look at themselves in the mirror at least once a month and look at their breasts.
While looking in the mirror, zero in on any changes in the size or shape or either breast and look for any changes that may have occurred in the appearance of the skin on your breasts.
For example, is there a rash or redness thats not going away or is there any skin thickening, Piatek says. If you lift your arms up, is there any dimpling of your breast tissue, swelling around your collarbone or under your arm?
Ultimately, the goal is to build awareness without adding additional stress, says Deanna J. Attai, MD, associate clinical professor in the department of surgery at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles and UCLA Health Burbank Breast Care.
I tell patients now that we no longer scold you for not doing monthly self-exams anymore, Dr. Attai says. We want women to have a general idea of whats normal for them and to be aware that breast cancer doesnt always present as a lump. It can be a sudden swelling, a redness of the skin that doesnt go away with antibiotics, blood from the nipple or a retraction or dimpling that can be a potential sign of an underlying cancer.
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.
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What Happens If I Find A Lump
“If a person feels a new lump in their breasts, they should absolutely inform their physician,” says Fishman. If you discover some symptoms, breast changes that concern you, or changes that persist after your menstrual cycle, see a doctor for evaluation.
Younger women are more likely to have dense breasts, the appearance of having more dense tissue than fatty tissue in the breast when viewed on a mammogram. This is a risk factor for breast cancer because dense tissue can hide cancers. The difference between a lump and having dense breasts is that dense breast tissue will often feel rubbery and usually without discrete edges around, says Abe.
According to Abe, “cancerous lumps are rarely painful, while benign, non-cancerous lumps can be painful. Still, not all lumps feel the same, so notify your doctor of any breast mass that doesn’t feel normal. If you find a lump, the next step is to get a mammogram or ultrasound to better characterize it, she says.
Breast Changes To Look Out For
See a GP if you notice any of the following changes:
- a change in the size, outline or shape of your breast
- a change in the look or feel of the skin on your breast, such as puckering or dimpling, a rash or redness
- a new lump, swelling, thickening or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that was not there before
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How To Perform A Breast Cancer Self
1. Simply look at your breasts in the mirror. Look from different angles, with your arms down and then raised.
What you should see:
- Breasts that are smooth and don’t show any visible signs of distortion
- The usual size, shape and color of your breasts
Signs to look out for:
- Changes in skin texture, such as dimpling, puckering or bulging
- Changes in the position of either nipple
- Any redness, splotches or other signs of a rash
- Abnormal swelling
- Any signs of fluid coming from either nipple
2. Feel your breasts while lying down, and then again while standing up. Using the pads of your first two or three fingers, make circular motions about the size of a quarter along the entire surface of your breasts and near your armpit. Use light, medium and firm pressure to feel the different layers of tissue.
What you should feel:
- The usual consistency of your breasts
- Whatever is “normal” in the different regions of your breasts
Signs to look out for:
- Lumps or hard masses in your breast tissue
- Thickening or fullness that feels different than the surrounding tissue
- Unusual warmth
- A nipple that has become inverted
Self-breast exams aren’t a surefire way to detect breast cancer — only medical testing, such as mammograms, can do that — but they can help you become more familiar with your breasts and, as such, more aware of any changes.
Can I Rely On Breast Self
Mammography can detect tumors before they can be felt, so screening is key for early detection. But when combined with regular medical care and appropriate guideline-recommended mammography, breast self-exams can help women know what is normal for them so they can report any changes to their healthcare provider.If you find a lump, schedule an appointment with your doctor, but dont panic 8 out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. For additional peace of mind, call your doctor whenever you have concerns.
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Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
MedStar Health doctors and the American Cancer Society recommend different screening guidelines based on the following risk categories:
- Examination by a trained professional every three years
Average risk may increase based on:
- Personal history of breast abnormalities
- Current age
- Breast cancer history of close relatives
- Whether a woman has had a breast biopsy
- Physical inactivity
High-risk: Family history of disease
- Women should be aware of any changes in their breasts. Monthly breast self-examination beginning at 20 years old is optional, but highly recommended.
- Clinical examination every six months starting 10 years before the age at which the youngest family member was diagnosed with the disease.
- Annual mammography starting 10 years before the age of the youngest family member with the disease .
- Consider annual MRI .
High-risk: Diagnosis of benign breast disease or breast cancer confined to the milk duct or lobule
- Women should be aware of any changes in their breasts. Monthly self-examination beginning at 20 years old is optional, but highly recommended.
- Clinical examination every six months beginning at time of diagnosis.
- Annual mammography beginning at the time of diagnosis.
- Consider annual MRI .
Symptoms Of Angiosarcoma Of The Breast
Another rare form of breast cancer, angiosarcoma forms inside the lymph and blood vessels. Only a biopsy may definitively diagnose this type of cancer. Angiosarcoma can cause changes to the skin of your breast, such as the development of purple-colored nodules that resemble a bruise. These nodules, if bumped or scratched, may bleed. Over time, these discolored areas may expand, making your skin appear swollen in that area. You may or may not have breast lumps with angiosarcoma. If you also have lymphedema, which is swelling caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid, angiosarcoma may occur in the affected arm. Cancer treatment sometimes damages the lymph vessels, which may lead to lymphedema.
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How To Perform A Breast Self
An important step to early detection is to perform a regular breast self-exam. A breast self-examination, or BSE, should be done monthly, around the same time, typically right after your menstrual cycle has ended. If you have been through menopause, choose the same date every month. There are two steps to a BSE, visual inspection and palpation.
British Columbia Specific Information
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in British Columbia. Breast cancer can occur in men as well, but it is not as common. Tests and treatments for breast cancer vary from person to person, and are based on individual circumstances. Certain factors such as your age, family history, or a previous breast cancer diagnosis may increase your risk of developing breast cancer. For information about your specific risk factors, speak with your health care provider.
A number of screening methods, including mammograms in women, can help find and diagnose breast cancer. The decision to have a mammogram or use any other screening method may be a difficult decision for some women. While screening for breast cancer is often recommended, it is not mandatory. Speak with your health care provider for information regarding how to get screened, the facts and myths about screening tests, how to maintain your breast health, and to get help making an informed decision.
For more information about breast cancer and breast cancer screening, visit:
If you have questions about breast cancer or medications, speak with your health care provider or call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse or pharmacist. Our nurses are available anytime, every day of the year, and our pharmacists are available every night from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m.
How To Check Your Breasts
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with almost 50,000 women diagnosed each year and around 11,500 deaths as a result of breast cancer. But more women than ever are surviving breast cancer as advances in medicine and awareness are increasing. As with all cancers, the faster breast cancer is diagnosed, the less likely it is to spread and the more chance you have of quickly getting back to living the life you love.
Breast cancer can occur at any stage in a womans life cycle, so it is important that whatever age you are, you check your breasts regularly so that you can monitor any changes.
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|
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In The Shower Or Bath
It may be easier to check your breasts while youre in the shower or bath, as your hands are wet. This makes it easier to slide your hand over your breasts.
An easy way to check your breasts is to:
Breast Cancer: How To Check Yourself For Symptoms And Signs
On Sunday, Sarah Hardings mother Marie announced that the former Girls Aloud singer had died from the disease.
The news comes a little over a year after Harding revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and it had spread to other parts of the body in August 2020.
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Many of you will know of Sarahs battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day, she continued.
Id like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved.
I know she wont want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease she was a bright shining star and I hope thats how she can be remembered instead, the statement said.
According to the latest statistics from Cancer Research UK, breast cancer accounted for 15 per cent of all new cancer cases in 2017.
Despite this, a large number of women dont check their breasts regularly for changes.
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Benefits And Risks Of Screenings
When and how often to have a breast screening test is a choice you must make. Different expert groups do not fully agree on the best timing for screening.
Before having a mammogram, talk to your provider about the pros and cons. Ask about:
- Your risk for breast cancer.
- Whether screening decreases your chance of dying from breast cancer.
- Whether there is any harm from breast cancer screening, such as side effects from testing or overtreatment of cancer when it’s discovered.
Risks of screenings can include:
- False-positive results. This occurs when a test shows cancer when there is none. This can lead to having more tests that also have risks. It can also cause anxiety. You may be more likely to have a false-positive result if you are younger, have a family history of breast cancer, have had breast biopsies in the past, or take hormones.
- False-negative results. These are tests that come back normal even though there is cancer. Women who have false-negative results do not know they have breast cancer and delay treatment.
- Exposure to radiation is a risk factor for breast cancer. Mammograms expose your breasts to radiation.
- Overtreatment. Mammograms and MRIs may find slow-growing cancers. These are cancers that may not shorten your life. At this time, it is not possible to know which cancers will grow and spread, so when cancer is found it is usually treated. Treatment can cause serious side effects.
A Final Note On Prevention: Get Screened
Remember, a breast self-exam is not a substitute for regular mammograms. Mammograms can spot irregularities, cancerous and otherwise, long before a visual or physical exam can. A mammogram is a crucial part of a womans preventive care plan, particularly when a woman is in her 40s through her 70s.
Says Dr. Parker, “Mammography is currently our best tool for detecting cancer, but these are only performed annually after the age of 40.” She is in favor of both mammograms and breast self-awareness, since “breast self-exams can detect problems that may pop up in between these important tests.”
Because 90 percent of breast cancer cases can be successfully treated if detected early, INTEGRIS encourages women to get a mammogram each year if they are over 40. INTEGRIS uses the latest, most accurate, life-saving breast imaging technology. This means false positives are reduced and 40 percent more invasive cancers are found at earlier, more treatable stages. Schedule your mammogram now. Call 1-855-MY-MAMMO , or talk with your doctor about how often you should receive a mammogram, based on family history, risk factors and age.
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