Screening for Breast Cancer

by Stacy Koenigs | Leave a Comment

When was the last time you performed a breast self-exam?  When I asked a number of women recently, the typical response was “not very often, but I know I should do it monthly.” Screening for breast cancer can be a scary topic, but with regular self examinations it doesn’t have to be.

My close friend has been battling breast cancer over the past several months.  She will be the first to say how very important it is to perform self-exams and to get to know your own body.  If performed regularly, you will understand and know how your tissue normally feels.  This knowledge will help you identify if something is different.  If you notice a change in the feel of your tissue, contact your physician and determine whether further testing is warranted.

To perform a thorough self-exam, follow these steps:

  • Stand in front of a mirror and look at both breasts with your hands at your sides. Your breasts should be their usual size, color and shape without any distortions present.  Contact your physician if you notice any distortion, swelling, redness or a change in nipple position.
  • Repeat the above step with your arms raised overhead.
  • While looking in the mirror, assure that there is no discharge or fluid coming from the nipples.
  • Lie down on your back and place one arm overhead.  Using the hand of your opposite arm, examine the breast.  Starting at the nipple, examine the tissue by making small circular motions around the center of the breast and working your way out to the edges of the breast in the same circular motion.  Be sure to cover the entire breast including the axilla (underarm area).  Vary the pressure in your fingers to allow you to reach all the tissue at the surface, middle and deep into the breast.
  • Repeat the previous exam in either a sitting or standing position with your arm over your head.

Of course, all women, aged 40 and older, should supplement their breast self-exams by scheduling an annual mammogram through their physician

What a simple thing for a woman to do once a month!  It takes just a few minutes to perform a breast self-exam and it may make all the difference for you and your loved ones!

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