Until you reach the correct age for a mammogram, you can start self breast examination yourself once a month and go to the doctor once a year. If you wish to perform the self breast examination, follow the instructions in the article.
We all want to stay healthy, and one of the ways to help you do that is to get to know your body well. If you spend some time observing and listening, and know how he looks and feels in his healthy routine, it will be easier for you to be aware and notice changes that require examination.
Every October, breast cancer awareness month is celebrated all over the world, and this is an excellent opportunity to get to know your body, through a self breast examination.
How reliable is self breast examination?
There is no test that can detect breast cancer 100%, but a combination of self breast examination once a month, accompanied by an examination by a breast surgeon once a year, can help detect the cancer in its early stages.
When you suspect something, and contact a doctor, they can send you for more comprehensive imaging tests (mammography, or ultrasound) to find out exactly what your condition is.
Don’t be afraid! The tests may save your life, and more than 80% of breast lumps are not malignant.
Wait, so start doing a mammogram?
Not yet. A mammogram is very important for diagnosing breast cancer, but it is recommended for women over the age of 50. Every woman who reaches this age will receive an invitation for a mammogram during the year. She is supposed to go to the family doctor every two years and ask for a referral, until the age of 74.
If she remains healthy until this age, the chance of getting breast cancer later in life is so small that there is no need to continue to be examined.
If you are postpartum , on the other hand, regardless of age, it is important that you go get checked. Breast cancer develops in some cases precisely after childbirth.
And what about me?
If you are over 25, you can be attentive to your body with a self breast examination once a month. This test only takes a few minutes, and you do not need to book an appointment with the doctor for this purpose.
I’m alone? What do I understand about medicine?
You may not understand much about medicine, but a high percentage of cancer detections by women are done with the help of self breast examination.
Just like that?
Just like that simple self breast examination!
Why self breast examination?
1. It’s the frequency: when you check your breasts in short periods of time, about once a month, you are able to feel and notice the change that takes place in your body right at the beginning. It is somewhat similar to the ability of blind people to recognize any object in their immediate environment with the help of their sense of touch. In the same way, you should also get to know your breasts by touch, in order to overcome any changes that may occur in them in the future.
2. And your sensitivity to yourself: it is your breasts that you are examining, and you feel your body both with your fingertips and from the inside, in the breasts themselves. Your personal feeling may be more sensitive and accurate than that of an outside tester because of this.
Doctor, you scared me. From now on I check every day.
Because if you check yourself every day you won’t feel any difference from day to day. Once a month is quite enough.
Wait, actually – why is it important to check at all? I’m young and healthy, and that’s a problem for, shall we say, older women, isn’t it?
The percentages of women who have developed breast cancer during their lifetime, at different ages, are high. Statistically, one woman out of every nine to 12 women will get the disease.
In recent years, there has been an increase in breast cancer among young women in their 20s and 30s. In 18-year-old girls, the disease is very rare, but may still happen.
Therefore, the disease must be treated seriously. What’s more, breast cancer, in most cases, grows without causing pain. In most cases where pain appears in the breasts, their source is hormonal problems, the use of pills, or the appearance of cysts in the breast.
Anyway, how do you check?
Breasts are external organs. Therefore you can check them yourself and what you need to know is:
1) Know when to look.
2) Know what to look for.
3) Know how to search.
When to really search?
For women with regular periods, it is better to perform the self breast examination two days after the end of the period.
Because then the breasts are less full and less sensitive to the touch.
And if there is no period?
So you should set a certain day (for example, every first of the month or on the last day of every month, or any other day you can easily remember) – and perform the self breast examination.
What to look for?
The test consists of observation and palpation. Often, there are marked differences between cancerous and non-cancerous breast tumours. The non-cancerous tumours (regardless of their size) are usually round or elliptical. That is: they have a sharp and clear border. In addition, they can be easily “moved” in any direction and many times they are very sensitive and painful (especially when it comes to cysts).
In contrast, cancerous breast tumours grow while penetrating the breast tissue, they do not “move” easily in all directions and in addition to this they are often rigid, without a sharp and clear border and fixed within the breast.
So how to search?
Apply body cream or hand cream to your palms. The cream causes the fingers to slide over the surface of the breasts and improves your ability to feel lumps inside the breast.
Now sit in front of the mirror and look at your breasts from above and in the mirror – once with your hands down and once with your hands up.
Check if you notice changes in the external shape of the breasts, if there is peeling or scaling that was not there before and most of all – if there is a dent in the skin or in the nipple and if the nipples are outside, or if one of them “goes in” (as if something is pulling the skin or the nipple in). A hollow in the skin, or the sinking of the nipple, may be a sign of the development of a cancerous tumour under the hollow area.
Examine the breasts both when your palms press the nipples into the breast, and also when you lift the breasts with the palms of your hands and reveal the lower part, which is usually difficult to see.
You should use the pads of the fingertips of the three middle fingers, and apply varying degrees of pressure during the test to test different depths of the breast tissue: light pressure to test the tissue close to the skin, medium pressure, and maximum pressure to test the depth of the breast.
Press on the nipples with your fingers from all sides, at different angles, trying to squeeze them. Even if you are not breastfeeding now (or don’t even think of breastfeeding in the next decade…), a little discharge (white, yellow or transparent) may come out. This is not an expression of a serious problem.
However, if after squeezing the nipples blood comes out, or a dark colored liquid – it is recommended to contact a doctor immediately for an examination. Pay attention – the appearance of such a liquid is not necessarily a manifestation of a cancerous tumour, but it must be ruled out!
Now, lying on your back, raise one hand and place it under your head. With the other hand, rub the opposite breast with the hand that is placed under the head. Massages the entire breast, from the collarbone, in the nipple to the tail area of the breast, the part of the breast that extends to the armpit area.
Do this in a spiralling motion from the inside out (or vice versa, whichever is more convenient for you) while looking for lumps in the breast, especially ones that weren’t there before. Then, place the other hand under the head, and check the opposite breast with the other hand in exactly the same way.
In the self breast examination you have performed so far, you have felt your breasts against your ribs. Now, examine your breasts while sitting, with both hands. Massage each breast separately while holding them like this: the thumb on one side of the breast and the other fingers on the other side.
Also check the armpit area. It is recommended to check when the arm is raised only a little, and not all the way up. Look for enlarged, stiff glands or any other changes.
Is this the whole test?
just no? Remember to repeat it every month.
Take your time and make sure to check the whole breast and study your body. As you get to know him better, you will notice if something changes.
And if I think I discovered something?
If you think you’ve discovered something, go to a surgeon at a professional clinic for an examination.
Do something positive and spread this article among all your friends.
Because that’s how you might save your best friend’s life.