Check your breasts

Early detection of breast abnormalities gives you the greatest chance of overcoming and serious problems.

Most of the time lumps in breasts are found by women themselves and although the majority of lumps are not cancerous, finding them early saves lives. A week after your period is the best time to examine your breasts – they are not so tender or swollen at this time of the month. If you are going through menopause or no longer have periods for any reason, then choose one day a month when you can examine yourself.

How to examine your breasts:

  • Stand in front of a mirror and look at your breasts. Look out for visible lumps, any changes in the size, colour or shape of them. Look also for dimples or puckering skin. Are your nipples normally inverted? If not, look to see if they are pushed in.
  • Now repeat this part of the examination with your hands behind your head – this moves your breasts into a different position.
  • Next, put your thumb and forefinger on each of your nipples and gently squeeze to check there is no discharge.
  • Now lie down with a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right hand under your head. With the fingers of your left hand flattened and together, press the top portion of the right breast. Moving in a circular motion, feel for lumps and thickening. Working clock-wise, begin to move around the outer part of the breast. Once you have completed the first circle, move the fingers closer to the nipple and repeat. Seventy-five percent of breast cancer occurs under the nipple-areola region or in the upper, outer portion of the breast near the armpit, so make sure you thoroughly examine these areas.
  • Once you have checked the entire surface of the right breast, move the pillow and examine the right breast using your hand in exactly the same way.
  • Using the same small, circular motions examine the area adjacent to your breast in the armpit as well. This area also contains breast tissue. Step 7. If you notice any thickening or a lump, contact your doctor straight away. Most lumps are not serious, but only your doctor can know that for sure.
  • By examining your breasts every month, you will soon become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. Then if an abnormality does occur, chances are you will notice it straight away and seek your doctor’s help before it can become develop into something serious.

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