Detect breast cancer early on with the help of a self-examination

Breast cancer is becoming increasingly common, but it can be tackled by detecting it early on. Here’s all you need to know about breast self-examination.
breast cancer detection
Knowing how to do a self-examination for breast cancer detection is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Aruna Kalra Published: 20 Oct 2021, 12:42 pm IST
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Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the breasts. Different bodies have different signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Some of them may not even have any signs or symptoms at all.

Following are some of breast cancer’s warning signs:
  • New lump in the breast or underarm
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Swelling or thickening of a part of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple area or pulling in of the nipple area
  • Pain in any area of the breast
  • Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
  • Discharge from nipples other than breast milk, including blood
  • Any change in the shape or the size of the breast

Also Read: Breast cancer is now THE most common cancer in the world, says WHO

breast cancer
Early detection of breast cancer can help. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Remember that these symptoms can be related to any other condition as well that may not be cancer. If you experience any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, see your doctor right away.

Breast cancer self-exam

Breast self-examination is a method to check your breasts for changes, such as thickening or lumps. In this case, you have to look at and feel both breasts. If you feel anything unusual, visit your doctor. 

How to do a breast cancer self-exam?

In the mirror:

  1. Stand undressed from the top in a well-lit room. Observe your breasts. It is okay if they are not equal in shape or size. Keep your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in position, shape, size, or skin changes. Look out for any dimpling, sores, puckering, or discoloration.
  2. Check and look for any sores, peeling, or change in the direction of your nipples.
  3. Place your hands on your hips, push them down to tighten the chest muscles under your breasts. Now, bend forward and roll your shoulders and elbows forward. Look for any changes in your breasts’ shape or contour.
  4. Place your hands behind your head and press. Inspect your breasts’ outer portions. 
  5. Press your nipples and check for fluid discharge. Repeat on your other breast.
breast cancer
Genetic testing for breast cancer can ensure timely diagnosis. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In the shower:

  1. Touch and feel for changes in the chest area. It becomes easy when your hands are slippery with soap and water. Check for any thickening or lumps in your underarm area. Place your right hand on your hip and reach out to your right armpit with your left hand. Repeat the same with your left hand.
  2. Check both sides above and below your collarbone for lumps or thickenings.

Lying down:

  1. Lie down on your bed and place a folded towel or a small pillow under your left shoulder. Place your left hand behind the head. Place your right hand on the upper portion of your left breast. Check for any lump or thickening by moving your hand in a circular motion. After one round, move your hand an inch closer to the nipple and continue. Repeat with the other hand.
  2. Place your palm on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the area for any changes. Press your nipple inward gently. It should move easily. Repeat the same on the other breast. Don’t forget to check the outer and upper area of the breast, which is nearest to the armpit.

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About the Author

Dr Aruna Kalra is a renowned obstetrician, gynaecologist, and laparoscopic surgeon at CK Birla Hospital. She has an experience of more than 23 years. She is an expert in scarless laparoscopic surgeries. Her areas of interest include minimally invasive gynaecological surgeries, gynae oncological surgeries, high-risk pregnancies, and vaginal birth after cesarean. ...Read More

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