Look, Feel, Compare
Women of all ages should be familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts. Early detection of breast cancer improves the chance of diagnosing breast cancer early for better survival. It is advised that women over the age of 20 should check their breasts monthly by self-examination. Women before reaching menopause should check their breasts from the 7th – 10th day after their period starts, while those post menopause, should schedule self-examinations on the same day every month. Here's what to look for, feel and compare. If you notice any of the following changes please see your doctor immediately.
In front of the mirror, raise hands above your head and observe if there is any of the below changes. Next, place your hands on your hips and press down firmly to tighten the chest muscles beneath your breasts. Inspect for any abnormalities.
- Changes in your breasts which are not normal for you; something different you haven't seen before.
- Changes to the nipple. This includes a change in shape, crusting, a sore or an ulcer, redness or inversion of the nipple.
- Discharge from the nipple. Particularly if this is from one nipple and is bloodstained, or occurs without squeezing.
You can feel for changes when lying down or during shower. Raise your right hand above your head. Use the pads of the middle three fingers of the left hand to examine the breast on the right side. Move fingers in dime-size circles from the armpit area to the side of the breast, and to the nipple. After that, check the other side using the same technique. Feel for:
- A lump, lumpiness or thickening. For younger women – if this is not related to your normal monthly cycle and remains after your period. For women of all ages – if this is a new change in one breast only.
- Persistent, unusual pain. If this is not related to your normal monthly cycle, remains after your period and occurs in one breast only.
- The shape or size of your breast with your last check. This might be either an increase or decrease in size.
- Your left with your right breast and nipple to spot any unusual differences.