It’s important to schedule annual breast exams with your doctor and regular mammograms each year. The latter screening is key to early detection of breast cancer. Performing exams at home is another way that you can take proactive measures and stay informed about any changes to your body. Here’s what you should know about doing this properly.
The Importance of Breast Exams
While mammograms provide doctors with a clear picture of what’s going on inside your body, the self-exam is a wonderful opportunity for you to monitor any physical changes to your breasts. Making it a habit will allow you to detect differences in their appearance or texture, which in turn may alert you to see your doctor for further investigation.
It’s important to note that a breast exam at home is not a substitute for a mammogram, but an addition to a well-rounded breast health care plan. Additionally, you should perform the exam at least three to five days after the start of your period, when your breasts are not as likely to be lumpy or feel sensitive. Aim to conduct the exam at the same time each month.
How to Conduct an Exam Yourself
Stand in front of a mirror and perform a visual evaluation first. Look for any changes to the shape, size, color, or texture of your breasts. Check for signs like swelling, puckering, dimpling, bulging, or changes to the position of the nipples. Redness and rashes should also be noted. Then raise your arms up and check for any visual changes. Examine the nipples for signs of discharge.
Now lie down and place your right hand on your left breast. Applying firm pressure with the pads of your fingers, press down and palpate the breast from top to bottom and left to right, moving in small quarter-sized circles as you go. Include the area from your collarbone to the abdomen and from the armpits to the top of your breasts. Feel for any changes, such as lumps or ripples. Perform the same exam while standing up. If you’re concerned about your findings, contact your doctor for further evaluation.
Is it time to schedule a professional breast exam? Visit Greece Obstetrics and Gynecology in Rochester, NY. These caring and compassionate professionals offer a variety of OB-GYN services, and can answer your most sensitive questions to help you make the best decisions for your health. Visit the website for more information, or call (585) 225-6680 to schedule an appointment. Be sure to ask about their convenient evening hours.