Breast self examination – A guide for early detection of breast changes

  • By Team TDO

The right way to do it

  1. Lie down on your back. Experts say this is the best way to conduct the exam, because when you lie down, the breast tissues spread evenly, and help you feel them better.
  2. Using the tips of fingers, start feeling the breasts. Use your left hand to feel your right breast and vice versa.
  3. Press gently, but firmly, in small circular motions. You may start from the nipples and go all the way across your breasts, gradually increasing the circular motion size.
  4. Make sure you feel every inch of your breast- from armpit, to the top of your abdomen, and from the base of the breast to the tip. Gently squeeze each breast to check for any discharge from the nipples.
  5. Next, stand up and face a mirror. Stand erect. Observe both your breasts carefully.
  6. Lastly, stand with your arms raised, and repeat the same set of observations as before.

It is essential that a woman knows what is normal so that she can report any abnormality as soon as possible.

What to look for

  1. While you are examining the breasts with your fingertips, note if you find any lump or a mass.
  2. Feel to see if the mass is fixed at a place, or if it is slippery and moving.
  3. Note the size and dimensions of the lump.
  4. While checking your breasts in the mirror, look for changes in the skin of the breasts. Look if you spot any darkening, pale spots, dimpling, puckering, and if there is any discharge from the nipples.
  5. If you note anything other than the normal, report it to you doctor.
  6. The ideal time to do the test is around 3 to 5 days after the start of your periods. For menopausal women, it is advisable to do the test on the same day of each month.
  7. Women who have undergone surgical breast implants are also advised to do this test. It is recommended that they take the help of their surgeon.

BSE was once widely hailed as an effective tool for finding breast cancer at a curable stage. Now the WHO doesn’t place it such a high pedestal due to the needless amount of biopsies and surgeries it brought about. Nevertheless, it is still one of the best methods to detect breast and nipple diseases at the earliest.