Examining Yourself for Abnormalities in Breasts
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in women in the United States. The condition has no known cure, and thus, early detection is the best way to fight against it. While mammograms and regular visits to the doctor are recommended, many doctors suggest women learn about self-examination techniques. This will help you understand what is normal and not normal for your breasts.
If you notice breast changes, you should consult with your doctor as soon as possible. While most changes people find in the self-examination have non-serious causes, it may still help notice changes that might detect breast cancer. Visit a mammography screening clinic for a professionally and medically-done breast examination.
Steps to examine your breasts for abnormalities
- Begin with a visual examination.
Sit or stand before the mirror and look for the following:
- Changes in shape, size, or symmetry.
- Check if your nipples are inverted.
- Raise your arms over your head, press your palms together, and check your breasts.
- Press your hands down on your hips and inspect your breasts.
- List your breasts and check whether the ridges along the bottom are symmetrical.
- Perform a manual inspection while lying down.
Here are the steps to perform a manual inspection of your breasts while lying down:
- Lie down on your couch or bed.
- Put your left hand behind your head.
- Using your right hand, manually inspect your left breast using the same techniques listed in point 1.
- Once done, do the same with your left hand to inspect your right breast.
What is considered normal?
You may find lumps in your breasts but do not panic, as most of them are not due to something serious. Most women are bound to find lumps in their breasts as these are normal to occur at some point in their menstrual cycle. If you feel like the look of your breast has changed, that is also not a concern since your breasts will change their look as you age.
When should you contact a doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you see the following changes:
- Dimples, bulges, wrinkles, or ridges on the skin of your breast.
- Bloody nipple discharge.
- Redness, warmth, swelling, or pain.
- A hard lump near your underarm.
- Itching, scales, rashes, or sores.
- A recent change in the nipple caused it to become pushed in instead of sticking out.
Your doctor may recommend a mammogram and additional tests.