Well, we’ve made it to October! This is always a very special month for many reasons. The weather gets crisp and the season brings a sense of hope we’ve all been needing. One very special part of October is Breast Cancer Awareness. We get a chance to honor those who have fought this battle and also remind ourselves of the power of prevention. How to do a Breast Self Exam: 5 Simple Steps A great way to keep track of your breast health at home is by doing a breast self exams in 5 simple steps.
According to the CDC, “breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States.” Additionally, “breast cancer is most often found in women, but men can get breast cancer too. About 1 out of every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the United States is found in a man.”
Self-exams, in combination with regular medical check-ups, have been known to be very effective in catching cancerous lumps.
5 Simple Steps for a Breast Self Exam
1. Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Here’s what you should look for:
- Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
- Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling.
- If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention:
- Dimpling, puckering or bulging of the skin
- A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
- Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
2. Raise your arms and look for the same changes.
3. While you’re in front of the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
4. Physical self-examination.
- Feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast.
- Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together.
- Cover the entire breast from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
- An up-and-down approach (like mowing the lawn) seems to work best for most women.
- Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath the breast, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back.
5. Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting.
- Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so we recommend this step in the shower.
- Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.
I feel a lump in my breast after self-examining. What do I do next?
First, don’t panic. Oftentimes, breast lumps turn out to be benign. However, we recommend calling your primary care provider if you feel a lump. Your Medical Provider will determine if you need to get imaging done (ultrasound/mammogram), an MRI, and/or biopsy. Regardless of how that plays out, make sure you get the answers to all of your questions. Never be afraid to ask questions about your health.
Where can I get a medical breast exam?
You have easy access to everything you need for staying on top of your medical care with us at ProHealth Medical Clinic in Gulf Breeze and Pensacola! The annual women’s exam is $195 and includes a PAP smear with necessary lab work (like HPV screening), a pelvic exam, and a breast exam. Insurance is not required. Call to make an appointment today.
We also offer prescriptions for birth control/reproductive care, general preventive and primary care, hormone therapy, and mental health services. Within the Gulf Breeze and Pensacola area, we have two walk-in clinics, and we offer memberships to make these services even more affordable for everyone. Call us or come into one of our Gulf Breeze/Pensacola locations and let us help you stay healthy!