How Often Should I Do a Self-Breast Exam?

womangivingaBSEGetting an annual mammogram is a proactive step you can take to stay one step ahead of breast cancer. Another important step you can take is to perform breast self-exams. A breast self-exam is a vital tool in helping you learn how your breasts normally look and feel. This knowledge can go a long way in detecting abnormalities that should be checked out by a doctor.

What is a Self-Breast Exam?

A breast self-exam is an easy, convenient, and free way you can evaluate the health of your breasts. Many doctors believe these self-exams can be used in conjunction with mammograms, clinical exams, and if necessary, MRIs and ultrasound, to detect breast cancer early.

How Do You Perform a Breast Self-Exam?

There are five steps in a breast self-exam.

Step One

Stand in front of a mirror with even, straight shoulders and your arms firmly against your hips. Take note of the following:

  • The usual size, shape, and color of your breasts
  • How even your breasts are

Call your doctor for an appointment if you see or feel the following:

  • Dimples
  • Puckers
  • Bulges
  • A nipple that is inverted (pushed inward)
  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Step Two

Raise your hands over your head and look for the changes stated above.

Step Three

While looking in the mirror, check your nipples for liquid discharge that is clear, milky, or yellow.

Step Four

While lying down, use the first three fingers of your right hand to feel for abnormalities on your left breast. Use firm, even pressure while pressing all areas of your breast (including the sides, cleavage, nipple, and armpit) in a circular motion. Examine the entire area from your collarbone all the way down to your abdomen. Use a lighter touch on the breast tissue and a firmer touch on the other areas. Repeat this step on the other breast.

Step Five

Repeat the self-exam in Step Four while standing or sitting.

How Often Should I Perform a Breast Self-Exam?

Doctors suggest that women should conduct breast self-exams once a month for best results. Choose a day several days after the end of your period when there’s less chance of swelling and tenderness. If you no longer have periods, choose the same day of each month to help you remember.

Know that each area of the breast has a different “feel” to it. For example, the area near the armpit tends to feel lumpier while the bottom half of your breast can feel sandy or pebbly. The area directly below the nipple tends to feel like large grains.

What Do I Do if I Find a Lump?

Most masses found during a breast exam are not cancer. However, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may perform a clinical exam in-office. If there’s still reason for concern, you may be advised to get additional testing such as a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, or MRI.

Where Can I Get a Mammogram on Long Island?

PURE Mammography is the premier mammography center for women in Lake Grove and the surrounding areas. We offer state-of-the-art 3D mammograms in a compassionate setting with spa-like amenities to put you at ease. Make an appointment today or stop by PURE during office hours for a same-day screening.

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