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How to do Breast Self

How to do Breast Self-examination

Cancer has become one of the leading causes of death around the world. According to World Health Organization (WHO), it is predicted that by the year 2020 there will be 10 million new cancer cases yearly in the developing world of which 6 million will die.

Among women, breast cancer and cervical cancer are the most common types of cancers. It is found that breast cancer is more common than the cervical cancer. Breast cancer can turn out to be deadly in the later stages of development if not detected and treated early. If breast cancer is detected and treated early enough then there is not only a chance for complete recovery but also has more treatment options available including breast preservation.

Early detection of breast cancer is very important and you can use simple tips like self-examination of breast, healthy diet, regular health checks etc. A quick self-examination of the breast can be done at home also.

How to do breast examination at home?

While taking bath in the shower
Just raise one of your arms. Then with your fingers held flat, touch every part of each breast, gently feeling for a lump or thickening. Use your right hand to examine your left breast, your left hand for your right breast.

Standing before the mirror

Stand before a mirror with your arms raised over your head and look for any changes (puckering, size/shape, redness, discharge) in your breasts. Then put your hands on your hips and look again.

Lying down

Lie down and put a pillow under your right shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head. Use the finger pads of your three middle fingers on your left hand to feel for lumps or thickening. Your finger pads are the top third of each finger. Press firmly enough to know how your breast feels. If you are not sure how hard to press then ask your doctor. You can try to copy the way your doctor uses the finger pads during a breast examination. Learn what your breast feels like most of the time. A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal. Move around the breast in a set way. You can choose either the circle, the up and down or the wedge. Do it the same every time, it will help you to make sure that you’ve gone over the entire breast area and to remember how your breast feels. Now examine your left breast using right hand finger pads. If you find any changes, see your doctor right away.

Few useful tips

  • Do  not forget to see an oncology surgeon or a breast cancer specialist once in every three years after a age of 30 years and once yearly after the age of 40 years
  • Get your mammogram done (x-ray picture of the inside of your breast) yearly.
  • If you are under age 40 and have a family history or other risk factors, ask when to begin screening from your doctor.
  • Once in a month from the age of 20 years check each breast all over. Check under your armpit too, use your finger pads, go up and down and feel for lumps, thickening and anything unusual.



Most common risk factors

  • As age advances risk of breast cancer increases.
  • A family history of breast cancer, especially if a first degree relative (mother, sister, daughter, aunt) had/has breast cancer.
  • Starting to menstruate at an early age (before the age of 11 years)
  • Late menopause after 50 years of age
  • Women who have not conceived.
  • Women who have their first child after 30 years of age.
  • Women who have not breast fed their children.
  • Past history of cancer in the other breast or certain types of fibrocystic breast disease.
  • Foods rich in animal fat and diets high in overall fat content.
  • Weight gain, especially after the menopause.

For more information on screening or breast cancer treatment in India, please write to us at medical@taindia.info

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