As I'm sure you noticed, October was breast cancer awareness month. The pink was everywhere: Even the NFL got involved! But beyond getting donations for a breast cancer walk or wearing a pink ribbon, what does it mean? Well, if you have breasts, it's time for you to get acquainted with them!
Okay, here's the 4-1-1 on monthly self-exams:
1. The best time to perform the exam is one week after you start your period. It is important to do the exam at the same time every month because monthly hormonal changes can alter the way your breasts feel.
2. Take off your shirt and bra and lie down. It is easiest to examine all of the breast tissue when you are not standing up.
3. Using the pads of the three middle fingers of your left hand-not your fingertips- check your right breast. Move your fingers slowly in small circles starting on the outside of your breast and working your way to the nipple. It is best to use three types of pressure to feel all of your breast tissue. Light pressure is needed to feel the tissue close to the skin. Medium pressure is used to feel a little deeper, and firm pressure is used to feel your tissue close to your breastbone and ribs. A firm ridge in the lower curve of each breast is normal. Use each pressure level to feel your breast tissue before moving on to the next spot.
Here are a list of changes you might observe that should be checked out by a doctor:
- Any new lump. It may or may not be painful to touch.
- Unusual thick areas.
- Sticky or bloody discharge from your nipples.
- Any changes in the skin of your breasts or nipples, such as puckering or dimpling.
- An unusual increase in the size of one breast.
- One breast unusually lower than the other.