Breast Self Exam (BSE) Recommendations
Early breast cancer detection is key. When detected early, the breast cancer survival rate jumps to 98%. Because almost 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams, Centegra Gavers Breast Center and the American Cancer Society encourage you to begin performing a monthly Breast Self Exam (BSE) beginning in your 20s.
An exam performed at the same time each month can help you notice changes to the look and feel of your breasts. The best time to do a self-exam is a few days after a menstrual cycle when the breasts are not swollen or tender. Any changes to the look and feel of your breasts should be discussed with your physician immediately.
How to Perform a Breast Self Exam
Standing in front of a mirror
Examine your breasts with your arms at your sides, then with your arms raised, and then with your hands pressed on your hips while tightening your chest muscles. Look for changes in size, shape, color or texture. Squeeze both nipples between the thumb and forefinger to check for discharge.
In the shower
It is easiest to perform the self-exam in the shower. Raise the right arm above your head. Using the pads of your three middle fingers, start at your armpit and feel your right breast with dime-sized circular motions moving up and down over your breast until you reach the middle of your chest. Use varying degrees of pressure to feel the different levels of tissue. Repeat for the left side.
Lying down helps to flatten the breast so the tissue can be examined by pressing it against the chest wall. Lie down and place a pillow under the right shoulder. Place your right arm behind your head. Using the pads of your three middle left fingers, start at your armpit and feel your right breast with dime-sized circular motions moving up and down over your breast until you reach the middle of your chest. Repeat for the left side.
Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) and Screening Recommendations
For women in their 20s and 30s, Clinical Breast Exams (CBE) are recommended annually. Beginning at age 40, you should have a yearly mammogram and a yearly CBE as recommended by your physician. If you are at an increased risk for developing cancer because of hereditary or personal health factors, you should begin screening for breast cancer earlier.
To learn more about breast cancer self-exams or to schedule a mammogram, call the Centegra Gavers Breast Center at (815) 356-6149.