Hi all, it’s Sam & Jenny, the new faces you may have seen around the office! This month is breast cancer awareness and we wanted to kick it off with some information about self-breast exams. It’s an easy and quick tool to help keep your mind at ease and your body safe.
How To Perform a Self Breast Exam
A routine breast exam will only take a few minutes and is best done at least once a month. If you are menstruating, you may wait until after your period to do your exam.
Visual inspection: Start with looking at your breasts in a mirror shirtless, braless, and arms down. Look for any swelling, dimpling, or irritation of the skin. You also want to note any changes in size and symmetry. Now complete with your arms up overhead with your hands together, then hands at the hip, and finally leaning forward flexing the pec muscles. Look again at both breasts for the same changes.
Manual Inspection Standing Up: After completing the visual inspection, use your right hand to examine your left breast, and vice versa. Use the pads of your middle three fingers and press on every part of your breast. Start with light pressure, then medium, then firm feeling for any lumps, thick spots, or other changes. Going in a circular pattern can help ensure you get every spot. Check the area under your areola and gently squeeze your nipple to check for discharge. Lastly, press the tissue of your under arm, again looking for any lumps, thickness, or other changes. Don’t forget to check both sides!
Manual Inspection Lying Down: Lying down is a good position to feel for changes as it allows your breast tissue to spread more evenly. Start by placing your arm behind your head and, using the opposite hand, repeat the same technique described above in standing to feel the breast tissue.
What is normal? That is probably the biggest question most women have. Breast tissue is usually soft and pliable, somewhat granular like the texture of a sugar scrub. Lumps are generally considered normal in various stages of a woman’s cycle that may change throughout, however are usually not solid and hard.
When should you go for a follow up?
- Change in the look, feel or size of the breast such as thickening or prominent fullness
- Change in the look or feel of the nipple, bloody nipple discharge, nipple discharge, rash on the nipple
- A recent change in a nipple to become pushed in (inverted) instead of sticking out
- Dimples, puckers, bulges or ridges on the skin of your breast
- Lump, hard knot or thick spot in the breast tissue, a hard lump or knot near your underarm
- Pain in one spot that won’t go away
- Swelling of one or both breasts, warmth, redness, or dark spots on the skin
- Itching, scales, sores or rashes
*If you have any concerns that something may not be normal or are simply unsure, please follow up with your doctor.
Use the pads of your 3 middle fingers, this is the most sensitive part of the hand and will be most sensitive to anything you may find.
Take your time, don’t rush! You can include it when you are dressing up for the day/undressing at night, lying in bed in the morning or at night, or when taking a shower.
Use a pattern, this will make sure you have examined the entire breast and give the most accurate results.
Call our office at (623) 226-4002 to find out how PT can help with any breast soft tissue problems you may be experiencing!
This information is meant to be educational and instructional. They are not able to diagnose or treat a specific issue and are not a substitute for a professional evaluation.