Self Breast Exam


To kick off the month of October, and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at wanted to share with you the importance of monthly self examinations, and how to properly do a self-check.

Beginning at the age of 20, most doctors recommend that women take time to do a self breast exam at home.  Women who regularly examine their breasts have a better idea of what is normal, and are more apt to notice changes-including lumps or masses that could be early signs of cancer.  The best time to do a self exam is about a week after your cycle when your breasts are not tender or swollen.  Or, if you no longer have a period, you can simply set aside a specific date each month for a self-check.  Most of the time, changes in  your breasts are not cancer, but if you do notice any, you should always consult your doctor.

What to Look For:

According to Women’s Health Resource, there are a few main changes that you should check for during a routine self breast examination.

  • Any change in shape or size
  • Skin irritation or dimpling
  • Nipple pain or an inverted nipple
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
  • Scaly-textured nipple or breast skin
  • Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)

Note that breasts can change from month-to-month, so not every change is cause for concern. If you do notice lumps or abnormalities, check for the same thing on the other breast.  If you notice the same thing on both, they are probably normal.  As your self-exam becomes more routine it will become easier to distinguish what is normal and what is not.

Self Breast Exam Tests

WebMD offers six different tests that can be used for your monthly self-breast exam.

Test 1: Using a mirror, inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides, with your hands on your hips, and with your arms raised while flexing your chest muscles.

Test 2: Look for any changes in contour, swelling, dimpling of skin, or appearance of the nipple. It is normal if your right and left breasts do not match exactly.

Test 3: Using the pads of your fingers, press firmly on your breast, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Move around your breast in a circular, up-and-down, or wedge pattern. Remember to use the same method every month. Check both breasts.

Test 4: There are three patterns you can use to examine your breast: the circular, the up-and-down, and the wedge patterns. Use the pattern that is easiest for you, and use the same pattern every month.

Test 5: Gently squeeze the nipple of each breast and report any discharge to your doctor immediately.

Test 6: Examine both breasts lying down. To examine the right breast, place a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right hand behind your head. Using the pads of your fingers, press firmly, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Use the same pattern you used while standing. Repeat for your left breast.

The key to surviving breast cancer is early detection, and by taking just a few minutes each month to give yourself a  breast exam you might be giving yourself the chance to get ahead of this disease.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Approaching

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible”-Christopher Reeve

TKO Breast Cancer Shirt

As many of you know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with September quickly winding down, it’s time to start preparing for this month of awareness.  NBCAM is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, and cure.  This campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.  Thousands of people are affected every year by this disease, so any support is extremely appreciated and well received.

During the month of October there are various ways you can participate in NBCAM.  You can gather a group of family members and friends to form a team for the National Race for the Cure in a city near you, or do a 2-day breast cancer walk with a group (or alone). In addition there is also the Susan G. Komen 3 Day For the Cure, which is the global leader of the breast cancer movement.  By participating in a charity walk or run you are not only donating funds to the cause, it’s also a great way to get outside and exercise with family and friends!

You can also participate in “Pink Days.” Pink is the chosen color to represent breast cancer, and during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October people raise money by organizing theme parties, or a “pink day” at work (where employees wear pink clothing or accessories).  The money raised is then donated to the organizer’s charity of choice.

Breast Cancer Facts and Information According to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates:

  • Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths among women in the U.S.
  • About 39,520 women in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer in 2011.
  • An estimated 450 men in the U.S. are expected to die from breast cancer in 2011.
  • The most proven and significant risk factors for getting breast cancer are being female and getting older.
  • Recent studies suggest that many women in the U.S. are getting their first mammogram later than recommended, not having mammograms at recommended intervals or not receiving appropriate and timely follow-up of positive screening results. This may lead to more advanced tumor size and stage at diagnosis.
  • One woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes, and one woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S.
  • There are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today.
  • Women who maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and limit the use of alcohol are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Choosing to participate in a walk/run for breast cancer, participating in a pink day, or simply making a conscious effort to recognize this month of awareness makes a difference. Respecting the month of October as a month dedicated to raising funds for breast cancer research, prevention and cure is definitely meaningful way to honor and show support to those battling the disease, as well as remembering those who have lost their lives to breast cancer.

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