Breast cancer can have serious consequences if not detected and treated early. Most adult women should perform self examinations of breasts at least once a month to detect any lumps or changes and also to be familiar with the feel of one’s own breast so they can let the doctor know when they think something is wrong. A little less than half of all breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump therefore it is very important to perform self examinations regularly.
While standing in front of the mirror, use the flat portion of your fingers to examine the entire breast pressing down with light and medium pressure. For convenience, you can divide the breast into 4 imaginary quadrants and examine each quadrant in detail. Also examine the armpit area. Look for any lump, thickening or hardening that you feel in any area.
You should also visually inspect your breasts with both arms on your sides. Look for any swellings or dimpling of the skin and any changes to the nipple.
Breast self exam should be combined with regular mammography. Mammography can detect lumps in the breast before we can even feel them. If during the exam you do find a lump, don’t panic. There are many causes of lumps and not all lumps are cancerous. In fact almost 80% of lumps found are not cancerous. Talk to you doctor for further steps.