12 Oct, 2022
Ladies, is your that time of the month near yet?
Before you start wondering, we are referring to your monthly breast self-examination (BSE) – a tool that could put you ahead of breast cancer. Although most women know what breast self-examination is, there are some who wonder if they are doing it the right way.
In an attempt to put an end to all questions related to breast self-examination, we have written this article covering everything you need to know about breast self-examination, or simply, a self-breast exam.
reast self-examination, or self-breast examination, is a simple breast cancer screening tool.
A breast self-examination involves a woman examining her breasts with her hands periodically at home in a systematic stepwise fashion. This helps women become familiar with the look and feel of their breasts and immediately notice when something is not normal. It also helps in the detection of breast lumps that may or may not be cancerous.
Routine breast self-examinations are crucial for your breast health, and they should be performed every month.
These tests can help you detect any changes that could point towards benign and malignant breast conditions. In the case of breast cancer, self-examination could play an important role in early diagnosis, which can lead to timely treatment.
In addition to a self-breast exam, women should opt for regular checkups and screening tests such as mammography, as these help in the early detection of breast cancer – even before it starts showing symptoms.
Breast self-examination involves two main steps: visual inspection and physical examination.
Visual Inspection: To visually inspect your breasts, you can use a mirror.
Manual Inspection/Physical Examination: You should physically examine your breasts while standing up and lying down.
Take your own time to examine your breasts. Do not hurry. Get familiar with your breast tissue.
If you have any questions or concerns related to the self-examination of your breasts, please talk to your primary physician or gynaecologist.
Beginning at age 20, women should perform self-breast exams every month for the rest of their lives.
The ideal time to perform your monthly breast self-examination is one week after your monthly period ends.
Some women experience tenderness in their breasts during their periods, and self-breast exams during this can cause discomfort. Therefore, you should examine your breasts sometime after your period ends.
Some reports suggest that breast self-examinations may not be effective during pregnancy as the size of milk ducts tends to change rapidly, especially during the last trimester.
Nevertheless, it is safe to get familiar with your breasts during your pregnancy, so you can alert your doctor if you come across something that is unusual and needs medical attention.
For more information on self-examining your breasts during pregnancy, please talk to your gynaecologist or primary physician.
No, you need not visit a hospital for your breast self-examination.
Yes, the other breast that was not affected by cancer will still need screening. Also, if autologous tissue is used for breast reconstruction, the screening will become necessary for the reconstructed breast too.
For more information on better screening guidance after breast reconstruction surgery, it is important to talk to a breast cancer specialist.
Breast self-examination is a tool that can help women find out if there are any changes that may point towards various benign and malignant breast problems. However, mammography, on the other hand, provides you with detailed information about your breast health.
Mammography can detect different anomalies, namely cysts, calcifications, and tumours, and can play a significant role in helping you make informed health decisions. Therefore, breast self-examination should not be considered as a substitute for mammography.
It is normal for women to have uneven breasts or nipples. However, if the breasts vary in size by over 20%, it may indicate the risk of breast cancer. In those cases, you should immediately consult your primary care physician or gynaecologist.
Do not panic. In most cases, lumps found in the breasts and armpits are non-cancerous.
However, consult a breast cancer specialist and report your observations. You may have to take further tests like mammography and ultrasound for a conclusive diagnosis.
It is true that breast cancer is one of the most common cancers. However, awareness of early detection and advanced treatment approaches has made it one of the most effectively treatable cancers too. Therefore, when a lump or any other sign of breast cancer is found, it is important to not panic. Consult your gynaecologist or primary care physician, who can guide you in the proper direction or suggest you consult a good cancer specialist. Otherwise, you can directly visit the best cancer hospital near you for a quick consultation with a breast cancer specialist and a quick mammogram scan.