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Comprehensive Breast
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Breast Self-Exam
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Patient Information

Breast Self Examination

Why should I do breast self examination?
Many women are reluctant to exam their breasts because they don’t feel confident in the technique or are unsure of what their normal breast tissue is supposed to feel like. Also, some women are afraid they may find something and not know what to do. Since you see your breasts every day, you are more apt to detect changes in your breasts than a once a year examination or mammogram. While most of the changes that women find in their breasts are not breast cancer, breast self examination remains an important part of our early detection and screening process for breast cancer.

When is the best time to do breast self examination?
Breast Self Examination (BSE) should be done every month. The best time to do BSE is 7-10 days after the last menstrual cycle when your breasts are less swollen and tender. If you no longer menstruate, choose a day you can remember such as the first day of every month. If you are breast feeding, nurse your baby first to empty the breasts of milk, and then examine your breasts.

How do I do breast self examination?
There are three steps to examining your breasts:
• Visual Examination
• Examination in the Shower
• Examination Lying Down

Visual Examination
Start your breast self examination by doing a visual examination of your breasts in the mirror while you are unclothed from the waist up. Look at the breasts for their size, shape, and appearance. It is not unusual for one breast to be larger than the other breast, but a growing breast for an unknown reason is something to bring to your doctor’s attention.

Raise your arms up over your head and look at your breasts again. This time look for visual changes in the breast such as dimpling, puckering, or changes in the nipple or shape of the breast. Look for the same visual changes in your breasts while you push in on your hips with your hands. Also, note any redness, rashes, or swelling of the breasts.

Examination in the Shower
Begin in the shower by soaping your hands or working up a lather to help your hands glide easily over your skin. Raise your right arm up over your head and begin examining your right breast with your left hand. Use the flat pads of your fingers and try to use three levels of pressure in each area you examine. Use light, medium, and deeper pressure in each spot. It is important to examine all of the breast tissue, from under your collarbone to your armpit, down to the underside of your breast, and across to your breast bone. Switch arms and examine the other breast. There are several pattern methods of examination you could use to examine your breasts such as the circular, wedge, or vertical strip method. Whichever method you choose, you should use it each time. Consistency is important for you to feel comfortable and confident in checking your breasts.

Examination Lying Down
It is important to examine your breasts while you are lying down since this position flattens the breast tissue and allows you to do a more thorough evaluation of the tissue. To help distribute the tissue more evenly, it may help to put a small towel or pillow under your midback. Rub a small amount of lotion on your breast to help your fingers glide more easily. Raise the right arm up over your head and use your left hand to examine your right breast as you did in the shower. When you have completed the right breast, raise the left arm up and examine the left breast with the right hand. Don’t forget to check under both arms for lumps as well.

That’s all there is to examining your breasts. A few minutes each month can provide you with peace of mind. And remember, if you feel something you are unsure of or have a concern, call your doctor or health care provider for evaluation. Or call us at
847-797-9000. We are here for all women with breast concerns. At The Center for Advanced Breast Care, our job is to help you feel confident, and help you allay any fears you may have concerning your breasts.

 
 
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