Breast self-exam is a technique, used to inspect your breast tissue and detect any abnormalities in its structure.
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For a long time, this method was recommended as a part of a screening program. But nowadays we have more effective tests like mammography. That's why the majority of medical organizations now deem self-examination optional procedure.
However this helps women be more familiar with their bodies and understand, what's normal for their breasts. So, you may notice if something goes wrong in your breasts and make an appointment with medical professional.
Many women, who have got diagnosis of breast neoplasm, say that they've found cancer-related lump by their own.
It takes only few minutes to examine your breasts, so it's worth knowing how to do this correctly.
First of all, choose a right day. The best time is several days after your periods, as any hormonal fluctuation occurred during the cycle make a great influence on the breast stricture.
For women, who have stopped menstruating at all, it's a good idea to choose one day in a month (for example the first day) and perform self-testing in this time every month.
Take your shirt and bra off and stand in front of the mirror, keeping the shoulders straight and arms lowered on the hips.
Look for any changes in the shape, symmetry and appearance in the breasts and nipple.
Lift your arms, press the palms together and look attentively at the breasts once more.
While you stay at the mirror, pay attention to any fluid, exuding from one or two nipples. It could be clean, yellowish, milky or bloody liquid.
Then lie down on the back, put your right hand on the left breast and the left hand on the right breast.
Using pads of your three fingers, put pressure on the breast tissue, feeling each layer of your breasts. Change pressure levels from light to firm in order to palp deep tissues, close to the ribs.
Be sure that you've examined the whole breast. For example you can start from the nipple and move in increasing circles, until you reach the outer part of the breast.
You can also begin palpation close to the collarbone and examine this region, moving pads toward the nipple. After that place your fingers onto the next section and then move the fingers clockwise.
When you examine two entire breasts, sit or stand up and perform the same technique in this position.
You may find that it's much easier to examine yourself, when the skin is wet. Using soap may also help your pads slip better over your skin.
Don't panic, if found one or more lumps in your breast. Most of these formations occur because of hormonal fluctuations and go away within one or two menstrual cycles.
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However you'd better consult with your doctor, if noticed any changes in breast appearance, unusual nipple discharge or if you feel discomfort in this area.
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