Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Different ways of doing a Breast Self Examination

How to do a self breast exam is vital for women past their adolescence in detecting early breast cancer. In the medical field, the most common term is breast self-examinations or in other words; BSE. BSE is intended for a woman to independently check for breast cancer by feeling and looking at each breast for any kind of lump(s), swelling(s) or distortion(s).
Young women are recommended to perform the BSE after one’s menstrual cycle as that time the breasts are not tender. While non-menstruating women are recommended to do it on monthly basis especially on a specific day as it’s easy to remember.
The most common techniques on how to do a self breast exam include the following three main methods;
The first method is doing the BSE in the shower when the skin is wet. One would typically raise the arm and using the soapy fingers, she would feel the breast with the finger pads of the second, third, and fourth fingers, moving methodically and using little, round or circular motions from the nipple to the outer margins and going on an up-and-down pattern. The same is repeated on the other breast.
The second method is by using a mirror where one would stand before a mirror and look at both breasts for differences in size, dimpling, bulging or turning in of the nipple. Also you would be advised to take note of any nipple or skin changes for example nipple discharge or a hard knot. All this should be checked in four different positions i.e. i) arms being at your side, ii) placing arms overhead, iii) bending forward and iv) having the hands on the hips (make sure to  press strongly so that the chest muscles are flexed). Using these positions, one can spot and appearance of a slight dimpling of the skin if a developed tumor has already affected a ligament.
The last method is doing BSE by lying down where one would place either a cushion or padding or a pillow under the right shoulder. Then she would take the right hand and place it under the head. By applying the same approach as the one mentioned in method one of using the finger pads and circular motion pattern, one would use the left hand to check for the right breast. The reverse is done for the left breast. While feeling the breast, different pressure amount is applied over each and every area of the breast. Furthermore, check any discharge from the nipple by lightly squeezing them.
Although this article guides you on how to do a self breast exam, recent studies have claimed that BSE do more harm than good as it has led to avoidable biopsies and surgery.

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