How To Check Your Breasts For Abnormalities And How Often?
In Ireland, many doctors believe that performing breast exams yourself can help detect abnormalities which could lead to Breast Cancer. There is a national screening programme for women aged 50-64 but it is a good idea for women of all ages to regularly check their own breasts for abnormalities. In the medical world, there is some debate about how helpful a self-exam may be but many women believe that this may be the first indication that something is different.
When you enter adulthood it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your breasts. You might be surprised by just how many natural lumps and bumps there are. It is a complex system with ducts, tissue and fat. It is not recommended to do a self-exam if you are a teenager as breast cancer and abnormalities in teenagers is extremely rare. At this stage, your breasts are still developing and therefore experiencing great levels of change.
If you notice an abnormality in your breasts you should notify your GP immediately. Abnormalities can be in the form of lumps, changes in the skin and unusual discharge from the nipples.
There are a number of ways to perform a self-exam and merely “check in” to see that all is normal for your breasts. You can do this standing up using a mirror, while you are in the shower or in a lying down position.
If you are using a mirror it is important to know that many women have breasts that are different in size and shape. For the most part that is completely normal.
If you are using the mirror look for any changes in shape, appearance of the skin or direction. You should also turn to the side so that you can also check from a side profile. You can tighten your chest muscles and roll your shoulders and elbows forward. Finally, place your hands behind your head and press your hands forward. Check all positions from the front and the side as well as inspecting underneath your breasts also.
The shower is a great place to look for any breast changes. The lubrication offered by the soap and water can make it easier. You can check for any abnormalities in the underarm area by placing one hand on your hip. You should then use the opposite hand to stretch over and reach for the other armpit to check for any thickenings or changes. When checking the breast, in general, raise one arm behind your head and use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to gently press on the breast tissue. Work your way from the bra line to the collarbone and repeat the same process on the other breast.
If you prefer to check your breasts while lying down use small circular motions and think of your breast as a clock. Work from Twelve O Clock to One O Clock and make your way back to Twelve O Clock. After you have done the full outskirt of the breasts you can move in an inch and do the very same until the entire breast surface area has been covered. Remember to check your nipples for any irregularities or discharge.
Some doctors believe that from the age of twenty you should try to perform a self-check at least once a month. This will give you a comfortable idea of how your breasts usually feel and it will help you notice any changes. If you notice an abnormality do not panic but bring it to your GP’s attention to be safe.
Written by Tracey Quinn staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.loveofliving.ie.