How to perform a breast self-exam?
Knowing our body to identify any significant changes and consulting specialists in time can make a difference, even more so when we talk about breast cancer, which is the tumor that most affects women worldwide.
This type of cancer is a random and abnormal proliferation of malignant breast cells that generate changes in the breast. As these transformations can be identifiable by touch or by sight, it is recommended that you follow the following steps to perform a self-exam every month:
Place yourself in front of a mirror so you can check your breasts in detail. Start with a visual examination to exclude any peeling of the skin, dimpling, orange skin, wrinkles, alterations in shape, or inverted nipples.
Bring your hands to your hips and apply pressure to identify if there are any changes in the breasts with this movement. Also bring your hands behind your head, pressing one on top of the other.
Gently press your nipples to rule out secretions.
- While lying on your back, extend one of your arms towards your head and examine with the other one. This makes it easier to palpate the breast tissue.
- Palpate different areas of the breast to identify any lumps or strange masses. Be especially careful in the area between the arm and the armpit.
- Follow a pattern in this inspection: you can linearly move your fingers, starting in the armpit and ending under the breast. Another pattern can be circular, moving your fingers around the entire breast, making smaller and smaller circles until you get close to the nipple.
It is recommended that all women over the age of 20 perform a monthly self-exam. The best time to do it is between five and seven days after your normal menstrual cycle ends when the breast is less sensitive.
It should be clear that self-exam does not replace medical diagnosis. Therefore, in the presence of any abnormality, do not anticipate the facts and wait for the specialists' opinion. Keep in mind, for example, that most breast lumps are not cancerous.
As time goes by, screening should increase. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most breast cancers are detected in women who are 50 years old or older. Therefore, it is recommended that clinical breast exams and screening mammograms be performed annually starting at age 40.