Breast Exam Essentials

By: Mary P. Wells

Women should make a personal commitment to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This commitment should be a top priority in order for women to be their best to themselves and then to others. We say this often but it’s vital to put it into action. Do we take the time to think about our lives and the lives of our legacy that are at stake? If you have not already done so, make the commitment and begin right where you are now to create a healthcare strategy that includes regular breast self-exams. Then, move forward to review and make the necessary adjustments. One healthy action to implement immediately and thereafter consistently is to conduct regular monthly breast self-exams. They are essential to all women beginning at age 20 for this major reason: to improve the chances of detecting early stages of breast cancer.

Breast self-exams do not take long as they are affordable at no cost to you, are conducted in the privacy of your home, and can be incorporated into your schedule. Also, as breast self-exams are conducted, women understand the look and feel of their breasts. This is very helpful to sense any changes in your breasts that may include unusual size, swelling, soreness, or rash that can be discussed with your physician. The ideal time to conduct a breast self-exam is one week after your menstrual cycle starts because breasts are not as tender and lumpy. Women who are pregnant should have an ultrasound, which is considered a safe tool, for looking inside the breasts. Also, for women who no longer have a menstrual cycle, have irregular periods, or have gone through menopause, a self-breast exam should be conducted on the same day each month that you can easily remember. Many women choose the first or last day of the month, or their favorite number.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation identifies three different self-breast exam methods and describes how they are performed:

  1. In The Shower. Each month check both breasts as you are feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any breast changes with the pads/flats of your three (3) middle fingers.
  2. In Front Of A Mirror. As your arms are placed at your sides, look at your breasts, raise your arms high over your head for any changes in the contour, swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Rest your palms on your hips and press firmly, flexing your chest muscles. Your left and right breasts will not exactly match—few womens’ breasts do, so look for dimpling, puckering, or changes on one side.
  3. Lying Down.Place a pillow under your right shoulder and with your right hand behind begin checking both breasts, use your left hand to move the pads of your fingers around your right breast, gently covering the entire breast area and armpit. Use pressure that’s light, medium, and firm. Squeeze the nipple, checking for discharge and lumps. Johns Hopkins Medical Center states “forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self[1]exam is very important.” Please share this valuable information with your family, friends, loved ones, and community so they can become proactive about contacting a healthcare provider when detecting changes while performing monthly self-breast exams.

Mary P. Wells is an Encouragement Expert whose Breast Cancer journey birthed One Word Encourage LLC sharing encouragement worldwide to thrive. She is a 3-time International BestSelling Author of the OWE Trilogy Journal Series at www.

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