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Breast Self-Examination: How to Check for Breast Cancer

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breast-cancer self-exam

It’s expected that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, with every 1 in 33 cases resulting in death. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in many countries around the world. During this month we show support for the awareness, early detection, and treatment of this disease—part of this is learning how to check for breast cancer yourself.

Self-Exam Using a Mirror

  1. Face a mirror while standing with your arms relaxed by your sides. Look for any changes in the colour and shape of your breasts, or if your nipples have changed direction.
  1. Place your hands firmly on your hips and lean backwards and forwards. Do you notice any lumps or skin dimpling?
  1. Raise both your arms and place your hands behind your head. Twist slowly from left to right to see if you notice any changes in the shape of your breasts.

Self-Exam Using Touch

  1. Raise your arms above your head one at a time. Using the pads of your fingers, massage your breast in a circular motion, creating smaller circles towards your nipples.
  1. With your arm still raised, knead your breast in an up and down motion. Start from the outside near your underarm and move inwards.
  1. Finally, massage your breast in a wedge-like motion. Move from the outside of your breast towards your nipple and back again to look for abnormal lumps.

Self-Exam While Lying Down

  1. Lie on your back with one arm raised over your head and a pillow under your shoulder. Using the same motions describe above, examine your breast with the pads of your fingers. Repeat on the other side.
  1. Place your hand on your hip to check for enlarged lymph nodes, which should feel like a bean or a corn kernel. Massage your underarm and the area surrounding your collarbone. Repeat on the other side.
The power to detect breast cancer is in your hands! You should repeat this process every single month, about 2 to 3 days after you finish your period. Taking a few minutes of your day to complete a breast self-examination can possibly detect breast cancer early on, increasing the number of treatment options available to you as well as an increased survival rate.

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