Breast Self-Exams: What, Who, Why, When, Where and How

bcmg_breast-self-examAs many as 40% of breast cancers are found by a physical exam, not mammography. While mammography remains the gold standard in the early detection of breast cancer, a breast self-exam can be a useful tool to help women become more familiar with what’s normal and not normal for their breasts.

What
A breast self-exam is monthly check of your own breasts.

Who
Adult women of all ages, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should do a monthly breast self-exam.

Why
A breast self-exam helps you become familiar with your breasts so you will notice changes earlier. Early detection is always best!

When
A breast self-exam should be performed at least once a month. It’s important to note that it is not unusual for a woman’s breasts to change throughout the month according to her menstrual cycle. If you are still menstruating, you may want to try performing the self-exam at different times in your cycle so you become familiar with the typical monthly changes to your breasts.

Where
Many women choose to perform breast self-exams in the shower. It’s also helpful to do a self-exam while lying down because the breast tissue moves in a different way.

How
First, visually check your breasts in the mirror. Keep you arms at your sides and look for any dimpling, puckering, bulging, nipple changes, redness, rash or swelling. Then, raise your hands above your head and check again.

Next, move your fingers around your breast in a circular pattern. Check the entire breast and armpit area. Be sure to feel the area outside the breast including up to the collarbone, out to the armpit, in to the middle of the chest and down to the bottom of the ribcage. For complete, detailed instructions, please visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

What to do if you notice breast changes

Contact your doctor if you notice any concerning changes in your breast(s). While most abnormalities will turn out to be non-cancerous findings, it is important to have them checked. With cancer, early detection is always best. Come to The Breast Center of Maple Grove for your mammogram or additional testing for a breast abnormality. Our relaxing and comfortable office can accommodate walk-ins or same-day appointments for mammograms. Our staff is always happy to answer your questions. Call us at 763-398-6370.