To learn what is normal for your breasts and to detect any problems that could lead to breast cancer, you should perform a breast self-exam once a month. Finding and treating breast cancer early can save your life.
The best time to perform the breast exam is a few days after your period ends each month. The exam is easier at this time because your breasts are less tender and swollen. If you no longer have periods, it helps you remember to do the exam if you do it on the same day each month.
All women should do a breast self-exam once a month, including women who:
There are two parts to the breast self-exam: looking and feeling.
In the first part of the exam, you are looking closely at your breasts for any changes in appearance. Stand or sit in front of a mirror and be sure you have good light. Examine your breasts with your hands pressed tightly on your hips and then with your arms raised high over your head. Look for any changes in skin tone or appearance.
In the second part of the exam, you are feeling your breasts for any changes. You can do this lying flat on your back, standing, or while taking a shower or bath. It is a good idea to examine your breasts both lying down and standing.
Examine one breast at a time. Keeping your fingers flat and together, gently feel each breast without pressing too hard or without using the tips of your fingers. There are three methods you can use to feel for any changes. Once you find the method that works best for you, use that pattern only.
If you notice any of these signs during your breast self-exam, call your Capital Women's Care doctor; we are there to answer any questions you have and to determine the best course of further treatment.