Your Monthly Breast Exam
There is a lot of information surrounding breast exams and mammograms so I wanted to take a few minutes and go over the basics.
Let’s start with a mammogram…
What is a mammogram exactly?
A mammogram is an x-ray that allows a qualified specialist to examine your breast tissue for any suspicious areas.
Why are mammograms important?
Mammograms are important because they can often show a breast lump before it can be felt.
They also can show tiny clusters of calcium called micro calcifications. Lumps or specks can be caused by cancer, fatty cells, or other conditions like cysts. Sometimes, further tests are needed to find out if abnormal cells are present.
While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can let your doctor know if there are any changes.
How To Do A Breast Self- Exam?
There are 3 common ways to do a breast self-exam:
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. If you notice any changes get breasts evaluated by your doctor.
2. IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR
Look at your breasts with your arms at your sides and 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.
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.
The America Cancer Society reports that, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
The Plastic Surgery Center encourages and reminds you to check your breasts, after your period every month, and continue doing so after breast surgery.