BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION (BSE)
Monday, March 23, 2009 | 4:48 am
Doctors often ask women if they examine their own breasts. Sometimes the reply is that they don’t, because they don’t know what they are looking for.
It is not a sin not to examine your own breasts. The reason most doctors will encourage it is because if women can familiarize themselves with their own breasts, they may be able to pick up changes, which can then be investigated. Earlier detection of breast cancer seems to be associated with better outcomes.
Doctors stress to women that nobody expects them to diagnose anything they may feel. Breast self-examination is not meant to replace examination by doctors, or screening mammograms where these are available. It is an extra check which may be useful.
Breast specialists suggest that breast examination should start after the age of 25, as the chance of significant problems before this age is minuscule, and the breast is getting less dense, and easier to examine after this age. If you do happen to find a breast abnormality, don’t panic (if you can help it), but get a doctor’s opinion on it.
It is difficult to describe breast examination without actually doing it. It takes a bit of imagination, but here goes.
Have naked breasts. Some women try to do it through a bra, which is fine if you want to find lumps in your bra.
Position yourself. Most women find it easier to examine themselves while they are lying down on their backs. That way the breast tissue is flatter, and thinner, and more evenly spaced against the chest wall. Women with small breasts may be able to adequately feel their breast tissue standing up, in the shower for example, or wherever else you choose to have naked breasts. Whether you are lying down or standing up, it is easier to examine your breast with the opposite hand (the left hand examines the right breast, while the the right arm is held up, out of the way, perhaps with your hand behind your head).
Flatten your hand, keeping your fingers together, so your hand is like a ping-pong bat. Keep your fingers like this.
Using the fingers (not the palm) of your hand (bat), press down onto your breast, squishing your breast tissue between your straight fingers and your chest wall. Now move the bat around, using little circular movements. You will feel the breast tissue texture against your flat fingers as you move your hand.
After you have felt mat particular bit, lift your bat and place it down again, next to the place you last felt, squishing another bit of breast, and press again using a circular motion. Only use the flats of your straight fingers, not your fingertips.
As you do this, over and over again, try to examine the whole breast. You can work your way up and down your breast from left to fight, or divide it up like a pie, whatever you choose. The aim is to feel as much of the breast tissue as you can. Don’t forget the nipple area. Remember that the breast tissue extends up towards the armpit. If you want to you can have a feel in out armpit for hard or swollen lymph glands, but these are not that easy to find.
(posted in Women’s Health | tagged Women’s Health)
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