Self-exam is the key to detecting breast cancer early
10/12/2015 2:59 PM
Most women find their own breast cancer, which reinforces the importance of doing regular self-breast exams. It’s important to start doing monthly breast exams at a young age, not because you’re likely to find a mass but so that you will know what your breasts look and feel like when they’re normal.
Breast cancer usually isn’t associated with pain, so it’s important to be aware of the other signs. When you do a self-breast exam, put the same arm behind your head as the breast you’re examining. Take your opposite hand and, starting from the outside of the breast, go in a circular motion with your three middle fingers all the way around to your nipple. It’s possible for a mass to form under the nipple, so you’ll want to check there as well. You’ll also want to feel around your armpits and check for nipple discharge. Repeat the steps on both breasts standing up and lying down.
When you’re examining your breasts, what you’re looking for are lumps or anything that does not feel like the rest of the same breast or the same as the other side. “Peau d’orange” is French for “orange peel skin” and describes a red, textured rash that usually doesn’t itch. This can also be a sign of breast cancer.
I also recommend having genetic testing done if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Visit ctmc.org to learn how you can get involved in local Breast Cancer Awareness activities throughout October.
About the Author:
Dr. Mary Geldernick is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in New Braunfels, Texas. She is a national speaker for Myriad Genetics.