“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who felt a lump…”
– Johns Hopkins Medical Center
The importance of annual mammograms cannot be overstated. These exams can often detect cancer and even benign lumps before they can be felt. Doesn’t that mean self-exams are unnecessary? Not at all. Performing a monthly self-exam of your breasts is still a critical part of maintaining health and wellness. And, yes, these self-exams save lives.
Why are Self-Exams Important?
If you have regular check-ups, why do you also need to do self-exams? There are a few reasons. First and foremost, no one knows your body better than you. If you feel new pain, a new lump or if you notice a change in appearance, such as:
- Puckering or
- Discharge from the nipple
…then you’ll want to address this much sooner than waiting for your next annual exam. While the change may not be serious, why chance it? Schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How Do I Perform a Self Breast Exam?
There are three basic ways to perform a monthly breast exam, as recommended by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
- In the Shower. While in the shower, put one arm behind your head. Using the finger pads of the middle three fingers of the other hand, check the entire breast and armpit with light, medium and firm pressure, feeling for lumps, thickenings, hardened knots or other changes. Repeat on the other side.
- In Front of the Mirror. Visually inspect your breasts with your arms down by your side. Next, raise your arms high overhead. Look for any changes. While most breasts are not symmetrical, if you notice new, unusual or drastic differences between them, it’s worth a look by a medical professional.
- Lying Down. When you lay down, the breast tissue spreads evenly against the wall of your chest. Put one arm behind your head and place a pillow under that same shoulder. Using the same technique as in the shower, exam the entire breast, including the nipple and underneath the breast, as well as the armpit. Repeat on the other side.
What If I Feel a Lump or Notice a Change?
If you do notice a difference, the very first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and don’t panic. Eight out of 10 lumps are not cancerous. However, any change in the appearance or feel of the breast should still be taken seriously. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. If treatment is required, you’ll start. And if it isn’t something to be treated, you’ll have peace of mind. It will also be noted so you and your doctor can continue to monitor for future changes.
Support for Your Journey
If you detect a lump or other change in your breast, contact your physician. No matter what happens next, the team at Pretty in Pink Boutique will walk by your side and offer products to make your journey as comfortable as possible. Contact us at 615-777-7465 or email us at [email protected] to schedule your appointment.