Why should I do breast self
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
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
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
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.