Breast Self-Exam: How to Check for Lumps and Other Breast Changes
Breast self-examination, or examining your breasts on your own, can be a useful tool for detecting breast cancer early. While no single test can detect all breast cancers early, using it in conjunction with other screening methods can improve your chances of catching it early.
How to do a breast self-exam: The five steps
Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin, inverted nipples, redness, soreness, rash, or swelling. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side. Feel all the tissue from the front to back of your breasts. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
What to do if you find a lump
If you’ve noticed a lump or other change in your breast, call your doctor. Ultrasound is often the first or only imaging test used to evaluate a lump in women under the age of 30, who are pregnant, or who are breastfeeding.
How to make breast self-exam part of your breast cancer screening strategy
Start a journal to record the findings of your breast self-exams. If you feel a lump that doesn’t show up on a mammogram, bring it to your doctor’s attention.
What do breast cancer lumps feel like?
Breast cancer tumors are rigid with firm, angular edges, resembling rocks rather than grapes.
Where are breast cancer lumps usually found?
Breast cancer can occur anywhere in the breast, but it is most common in the upper, outer section, where it can be found near the surface or deeper inside the breast, close to the chest wall, or in the armpit area, where there is more breast tissue (a.k.a. the “tail” of the breast).
What does it mean if you feel something hard in your breast?
Lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) or that feel different from the rest of the breast (or the other breast) should be checked because they could be a sign of breast cancer or a benign breast condition (like a cyst or fibroadenoma).
Is a breast lump hard or soft?
Breast cancer lumps or tumors are usually hard or firm, with an irregular shape and the sensation of being stuck to the skin or deep tissue within the breast. Breast cancer is rarely painful, especially in the early stages.
How can you tell the difference between a cyst and breast cancer?
Breast lumps are common and are signs of changes in breast tissue; however, most breast lumps are not cancerous. Breast lumps (all breast lumps should be evaluated by a doctor), nipple discharge, and changes in the skin overlying the breast are all symptoms of breast cancer and breast cysts that are similar.
What is usually the first sign of breast cancer?
Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone. Swelling in your armpit or near your collarbone is often the first symptom of breast cancer. Your doctor can usually see a lump on a mammogram long before you can see or feel it.
How fast does a breast cancer lump grow?
Breast cancer must divide 30 times before it can be felt, and neither you nor your doctor can detect it until the 28th cell division. Because most breast cancers take one to two months to divide, by the time you can feel a cancerous lump, the cancer has already been in your body for two to five years.
Is a lump on breast always cancer?
It can be unsettling to discover a lump in your breast, but most lumps aren’t breast cancer, according to MSK breast radiologist Delia Keating. Here are the facts on some common benign breast lumps.
Where are breast cysts usually located?
Cysts are fluid-filled, round or oval sacs in the breasts that are often felt as a round, movable lump that may also be tender to the touch. They are most commonly found in women in their 40s, but they can happen at any age.
What kind of lumps are normal in breasts?
The majority of breast lumps u2013 about 80% of those biopsied u2013 are benign (non-cancerous). Here are some of the most common benign breast conditions that cause lumps: numerous, small multiple cysts (lumpy, fluid-filled sacs, or “pockets”).
Why Does My breast hurt when I press it?
Breast pain, also known as mastalgia, is common and accounts for 45-70% of breast-related health-care visits. The good news is that most causes of breast pain are benign (non-cancerous) and can be as simple as hormonal changes in your body or a poorly fitting bra.
When should I go to the doctor for a breast lump?
Make an appointment to have a breast lump evaluated if it feels firm or fixed, does not go away after four to six weeks, or you notice skin changes on your breast, such as redness, crusting, dimpling, or puckering.
What should I do if I find a lump in my breast?
If you notice any symptoms of breast cancer, such as an unusual lump in your breast or a change in the appearance, feel, or shape of your breasts, see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will examine you and refer you to a specialist breast cancer clinic if they believe your symptoms require further investigation.
How do you tell if a lump is a cyst?
However, there are a few key distinctions between the two: a cyst is a small sac filled with air, fluid, or other material, whereas a tumor is any abnormal area of extra tissue.
|white, yellow, or green discharge||✓|
|able to move around under skin||✓|
How can you tell the difference between a lump and breast tissue?
If the lumpiness can be felt throughout the breast and feels the same as the rest of your breast, it’s most likely normal breast tissue; however, if you notice any lumps that feel harder or different from the rest of your breast, you should have them checked by a professional.