The Importance of Self Breast Exams
Monthly self breast exams are easy to do, cost nothing, take very little time, and are an important part of women’s health. Exams can be one way to catch breast cancer early, which can increase the odds of successful treatment. Here is some more information on breast exams and how to perform them.
How do you do a self breast exam?
Your doctor can give you the specific steps for performing a breast exam and can tell you what to look for. The main idea is to look at your breasts to see if they have changed any in the past month – check their size, shape, and color. Check for any unusual dimpling or puckering, redness or rash, and to make sure your nipples are not inverted (pushing inward instead of outward). You should perform this visual check in front of the mirror, both with hands on your hips and with your arms raised.
You should also feel your breasts, both while lying down and then while standing up with your arm raised. Make sure you check the entire breast, including underneath.
Self breast exams should be done every month, preferably after your period ends and when your breasts aren’t swollen and tender. If you no longer have periods, it is still important to do breast exams every month! You can do it on the same day every month to make it easier to remember.
What if you find a lump?
As difficult as it may be if you find a lump, don’t panic! There are many possible reasons for a lump in the breast. If you do notice one, make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will examine your breasts and may recommend an ultrasound or a mammogram.
Self breast exams give you the chance to get to know your own body so you can tell when something isn’t right. They can also give you peace of mind when you don’t notice any changes at all from month to month. Self breast exams are important, and so is visiting your doctor for a routine women’s health exam. Call the Palmdale office of Katayoun Motlagh, MD, to schedule an appointment, at (661) 947-6400.