At-home breast screenings are essential to help catch any early signs of disease. Early detection increases the chance of finding breast cancer before it progresses and spreads, and gives you the best chance at complete recovery. Here are three easy steps to follow to conduct a breast exam regularly at home.
Step One: Visual Exam
Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror. Put your hands on your hips and stand with a good posture. Make sure your nipples, areolas, and breasts are of typical size, shape, and color. They should be relatively symmetrical, with no distortions or swellings in either breast. Check for signs of discharge from one or both nipples with the fluid being milky, watery, or yellowish in color.
Next, raise your arms over your head and look for the same issues. If you spot any of these signs during your visual inspection, schedule a visit with your doctor as soon as possible.
- Puckered, dimpled, or bulging skin
- An unusual nipple inversion or position
- Rash, redness, rash, or swelling
Step 2: Feel for Irregularities or Lumps
The next step is to lie flat on your back with one arm behind your head. With the ring, middle, and index fingers of your other hand, feel for the opposite breast. Use a smooth, firm touch, keeping your fingers together. Move them in a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
To make sure you cover the whole breast from side to side, top to bottom, follow a pattern. You can start at your nipple, moving outward in expanding circles. Or you might move your fingers in vertical rows as if you were mopping a floor. Once you finished with one breast, use the same method with the other side.
Step 3: Shower Self-Exam
Finally, feel each breast while you are sitting in the bath or standing in the shower. You will find it easiest to complete this portion of the exam when your skin is slippery. Thoroughly check each breast, using the same hand motions described above.
How to Make Breast Self-Exam Part Of Your Breast Cancer Screening Strategy
Make self-examinations a routine. The more you explore your breasts, the easier it will be to notice when something has changed. Get into the habit of a breast self-exam monthly to familiarize yourself with how your breasts typically look and feel. Examine yourself several days after your period, when your breasts are not swollen and tender. If you no longer have periods, choose a day that’s easy to remember, like the first or last day of the month.
Learn More About Breast Exams In New Orleans
Dr. Russel Hendrick at the New Orleans Center for Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery is a board-certified plastic surgeon specializing in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery of the body. He offers a full range of surgical treatments, including spa services and skincare products.