October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the reminders are everywhere. Pink ribbons and their products have lined clothes and store shelves. Commercials have even made it television, reminding women to do a Breast Self-Exam and to text their friends about it! Yet, many women still have not done a Breast Self-Exam (BSE) this month. Many of those who have, aren’t even sure they did it properly. With Breast Cancer affecting about 13% of women in the United States, Breast Self-Exams are more important than ever before. Deaths from breast cancer have dropped since the 1990’s, but still, no cure.
According to Breastcancer.org, self breast exams are still a necessity every month for early detection. Breast Cancer made its way into the lives of about 13% of women in the United States in 2008 and early detection has saved many of these lives.
Five simple steps to a Breast Self-Exam:
1. Breast self-exams should be done a few days after a period is finished. Start by standing in front of a mirror with hands on hips. Look for swelling, dimpling, bulging of the skin or puckering. Changes in the nipple or the area surrounding, redness, soreness swelling or rash should be reported to your doctor.
2. Looking for the same types of changes, raise arms over hear and clasp hands.
3. Look for bleeding, discharge, fluid of any kind coming out of the nipples.
4. Next, while laying down, one arm behind your head, use the opposite hand, fingers together, make circular motions about the size of a quarter. Do this over the entire breast from top to bottom and right to left. Move in a circular motion until the entire area and outer area of the breast has been examined.
5. Since many women find it easier to find a lump while wet, doing step four in the shower may help as well.
If after doing these steps, you find a lump or an area that just doesn’t feel “right”, call your doctor to make an appointment immediately. Teen girls should also be taught the BSE following their first menstrual cycle to ensure they know how their breast should feel and would be able to identify something that isn’t right with their body.