Are You Regularly Completing a Breast Self-Examination?

Many women fear breast cancer, but it’s not necessarily a terminal diagnosis today. Many breast cancers can be cured; others can be managed long-term. As with any health problem, early diagnosis and treatment usually provides a better outcome. 

Breast cancer can affect women (and even men) at any stage of adult life. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; it’s a good time to focus on your breast health. 

Why breast self-examination is helpful 

At Arsenio Medical, your primary care physician examines your breasts during your annual physical and also provides a referral for a mammogram. That’s a once per year assessment. 

Mammograms, while excellent screening tools, aren’t 100 percent accurate; experts say they miss about 10 percent of breast cancer cases. Some breast cancers do have noticeable physical symptoms, so it’s helpful to know the landscape of your breasts. One helpful method to determine if there have been changes in your breasts is self-examination. 

Helpful breast self-exam tips 

Experts recommended examining your breasts once a month. Timing is important. You don’t want to examine them right before your period, when they may be swollen or sore. A good time to do it is during the week when your period is over. If you’re in menopause, simply select a day of the month for your self-examination and put it on the calendar. 

To help you remember what you feel, you may want to draw a ‘map’ of your breasts, noting where you feel lumps or any irregularity under the skin. You can then compare what you feel at each self-exam to the map of your breasts so you can more easily discover anything new. 

Everyone’s breasts are different. If you have dense breasts, you’ll feel lumps and bumps in certain areas when you examine yourself. Even if you don’t, your breasts will feel different in different areas — near your armpit, under the nipple, the bottom of the breast. Familiarizing yourself with how your breasts feel helps you to understand what’s normal for you.  

Breast self-exams are quick and easy to do

Examining your breasts only takes a few minutes and doesn’t cost anything. Performing this procedure monthly, between annual mammograms, provides a measure of reassurance for many women. 

Your physician at Arsenio Medical shows you how to examine your breasts. Breastcancer.org provides a helpful chart that also explains the five steps involved in examining your breasts. 

Changes in your breasts: When to see the doctor 

Once you’ve started doing breast self-exams, you’ll gain confidence in knowing what to look for  — a change in the physical appearance of your breasts. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your physician at Arsenio Medical: 

Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your physician at Arsenio Medical if you do find a lump or bump. If you discover something right before your period, it’s best to wait until after your period is over to determine if it’s still there. Most lumps turn out to be benign. 

Call or request an appointment through our online portal for expert primary care focusing on prevention, early diagnosis, and compassionate treatment. Together, we can save lives.

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