How to properly perform breast self-examination’ breast self-examination?
For the prevention of breast cancer, it is good practice for women to undergo regular specialist medical examinations, and perform an initial screening through self-examination’self-palpation.
Self-palpation can facilitate early diagnosis by increasing survival rates. Statistics note that five years after diagnosis and treatment, survival of women with breast cancer is 98 percent 1 .
Let’s take a look together at how to correctly perform self-examination
Before you begin, you should carefully scan your breasts by standing with your arms along your sides and in front of a mirror, looking for abnormal sagging or contours, changes in the shape or color of the nipples. Repeat with arms raised.
Begin by bringing one arm above the head and with the other hand perform breast self-examination with fingers outstretched. Look for thickening, abnormal masses, indurations. Repeat the’operation on the opposite side.
Lie on the bed, with head and shoulders on the pillow, and put one arm behind the head. With your free hand, always with fingers outstretched, feel the breast in circular maneuvers, from the base toward the nipple. Also check the armpits, for possible lumps.
Next, it is necessary to check for fluid leakage by gently pressing the nipple with index finger and thumb. If fluid comes out, check its coloration.
Perform once a month self-examination, away from the menstrual period, when the breasts are soft and less sensitive.
When abnormalities (nodules, dimpling, fluid leakage) are detected, it is essential to contact your doctor, without getting agitated.
Medical specialists recommend a targeted screening pathway especially for women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. In addition to mammograms or ultrasound scans, women can undergo genetic testing for mutations to BRCA genes, which are associated with the development of ovarian cancer (15% of cases) and breast cancer (5-10% of cases) 2,3 .