Breast Self Examination

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How to be Breast Aware: Self Examination

All women should check for changes in the appearance, feel and shape of your breasts regularly. Although the risks of breast cancer are high in women over 50, it is recommended that you perform breast self examinations once a month from the age of 20. Note that examinations should be done a few days after your period as ovulation and menstruation causes fluctuations in hormones, which means breasts feel tender and slightly 'lumpy'.

Whilst performing your examination, check for the following:

Four Steps to Self-Examination

  1. Remove your clothing bra so your torso is naked. Stand in front of a mirror, search for the visible symptoms described above. Do this while the arms are raised, and again with the arms lowered
  2. Next, lie down. To make your self exam easier and more thorough, envision the face of a clock on each breast.
  3. Start at the 12 o'clock position, and use the pads of your fingers with a firm and smooth touch, begin to feel your breasts for any lumps or painful areas in a massaging clockwise motion
  4. Be sure to check from the armpit to the cleavage, and from the collarbone to the abdomen; tumours can occur in all areas of the breast, so check them all!

IF you find a lump or any of the above symptoms, see your GP as soon as possible. The earlier you begin regular exams, abnormalities will be less difficult to discover. For women who find tumours in their early stages, 80% will survive.

Being breast aware will not alone stop you from potential breast cancer, breast self-exams can miss tumours so it is important to have more than one method for screening.