In October, awareness about breast cancer is heightened and many people are encouraged to have their breasts screened or have a self-exam right at home. This does not mean that you should not care for your breast any other time of the year.
And that’s where self-exam comes in. It gives you the chance to check out the shape, size and texture of your breasts throughout so that you can easily spot any difference. The thing is, you must do it in a proper way and here at Afro Mum, we got you covered on what steps to take have an effective breast self-exam.
1. Just look
The very first step is to look at your breasts. Get familiar with it. Doing this will make you get used to its size, shape and texture. Remember that the breast changes as per your menstrual cycle and knowing what changes these are, make it easier for you to know when something’s off.
It is also why it is recommended that the self-exam takes place a few days after your period as the breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen.
On the day you choose for self-examination, the first thing to do ensure the breasts are even and have no swelling or distortion.
Pay particular attention to
- Dimpling or puckering, or bulging of the skin
- Make sure the nipple has neither changed position nor become inverted. Also check whether there is any liquid come out of it, whether watery, yellow, milky or blood.
- Redness or soreness or rash, or swelling
2. Hands up
Just like the first step, this also helps in checking the status of the breast with your hands raised. Check for the same symptoms as above.
3. Outer check
Lie down and roll on to your left side. Put your right hand on your forehead to give you enough access to the breast from the armpit. If you need a pillow, get a soft comfortable one.
Make sure you use the flat pads of your three middle fingers and not the tips (emphasis).
Move the pads in a circular motion, changing the pressure after a few circles to make sure you feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts. Start the cycles from your armpit down to the rib cage and repeat the process until you get to the nipple.
4. Inner check
For this, you need to lie flat on your back, with your right hand at a right angle. With the same flat pads, check the nipple area. Do not squeeze but apply enough pressure to feel the tissues underneath.
Move your fingers up and down, from near your clavicle down to the middle of the chest and back up until you get to the middle of your chest.
5. Repeat the process with your left breast.
See, five easy steps.
PS: Do not panic if you see something’s off. Here is a list of some cancer centres you can contact to have a screening and further evaluation.