Womens Health

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: How To Do a Self-Exam

By October 16, 2015 No Comments
2015-Breast-Cancer-Awareness-Month

It’s that time of year where we see beautiful hues of orange, red, yellows…and pink. October is breast cancer awareness month! Breast cancer scares me. Just last week one of our moms confided she has missed two weeks of training because she had breast exams which lead to a biopsy. Luckily it was benign and she is cancer-free. Early detection is critical!

This month, I’d love to share some tips with you from BHG360 Bankers Healthcare Group, providing financing solutions to healthcare professionals.

BHG_BreastCancelAwareness_month_2

What should I be doing?

Creating a plan! The National Breast Cancer Foundation provides a great resource for creating an early detection plan. It takes less than five minutes to complete and gives you a game plan. I like to be prepared, do you? I enjoyed this because it breaks it down as to what you should be doing monthly and tells when you should schedule exam appointments. You can also search for clinics in your area.

Monthly Exam…

Perform a breast self-exams at least once a month. I’ve been doing this regularly for the last six months because I did find a lump. I immediately got a doctor appointment and went for a mammogram and ultrasound. It turned out to be fibrous tissue but the scare was incredibly real.

How do you do a monthly exam?

I needed directions. A quick Google search took me to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and they had a step-by-step guide.

BreastCancer _shower

Photo credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

1) In the Shower

Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the center, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

Breastcancer_Mirror

Photo credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

2) In Front of a Mirror

Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.

Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.

Photo credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

Photo credit: National Breast Cancer Foundation

3) Lying Down

When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.

Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.

Yearly Exams…

Clinical Breast exams are an important part of early detection. Most often lumps are discovered by the self-exam, but sometimes professionals are able to locate suspicious areas.

  • Women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years.
  • Women who are younger than 40 and have risk factors for breast cancer should ask their healthcare professional whether mammograms are advisable and how often to have them.

I detected a lump in my breast in the springtime and immediately had it checked out. I was fortunate, the lump is a fluid filled cyst – a common type of breast fibroid. I will go in for a mammogram every year to have it followed.

Please take two minutes a do a self-exam on your breasts right now. Share this post with your friends and family to help spread awareness about early detection.