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How To Do A Breast Self-Exam

Breast-Cancer-AwarenessOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Midwest Express Clinic is joining the fight by bringing awareness of the disease to thousands of women in the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland areas. One of our priorities, as your medical provider of choice, is to educate women on how to be proactive with their breast health. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, when breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100%.

While breast cancer can’t be prevented, there are some steps you can take to monitor your breast health, including a monthly breast self-exam. According to Johns Hopkins, “40% of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

Begin with a Visual Examination

The Mayo Clinic outlines the following steps for conducting a visual inspection of your breasts during a self-exam:

  1. Standing shirtless and braless in front of a mirror, look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in shape, size or symmetry. Check to see if your nipples are inverted (turned in).
  2. Inspect your breasts with your hands pressed down on your hips.
  3. Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together.
  4. Lift your breasts to see if ridges along the bottom are symmetrical.

Conduct a Physical Exam

Common ways to perform the manual part of the breast exam include while lying down or in the shower.

While performing the exam, use the pads of your fingers to apply different levels of pressure to your breasts. Apply light pressure to feel the tissue closest to the skin, medium pressure to feel a little deeper, and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs. Establish a routine and take your time to ensure you examine all parts of the breast.

If you have a visual or physical impairment that makes conducting any part of the self-exam difficult, ask a trusted friend or family member for help.

Make an Appointment with your Doctor

If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor:

  • A mass or lump
  • A change in the size, shape or contour of the breast
  • A marble-like area under the skin
  • Redness of the skin on the breast or nipple
  • An area that is different from any other area on either breast
  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm that lasts through your menstrual cycle
  • A change in the feel or appearance of the skin on the breast or nipple, such as dimpled, puckered, scaly or inflamed
  • Blood or clear fluid discharge from the nipples

If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact Midwest Express Clinic and schedule an appointment at any of our locations.