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).
Why do I feel a small ball in my breast?
The majority of benign breast lumps and conditions are caused by your menstrual cycle, hormone fluctuations, and the fluid buildup that occurs during your monthly period; however, other benign breast lumps and conditions can be caused by clogged milk ducts, infections, or even breast injuries.
Is it normal to feel a lump in your breast?
However, breast lumps are common, and the majority of them are benign (noncancerous), especially in younger women; however, any breast lump should be evaluated by a doctor, especially if it’s new, feels different from your other breast, or feels different from what you’ve felt previously.
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 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.
When should I be concerned about a lump in my 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).
How long can you have breast cancer without knowing?
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.
How likely is a breast lump to be cancer?
Finding a lump in your breast can be frightening, but while breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, the majority of breast lumps are benign; in fact, more than 80% of them are benign. A painful breast lump in a small percentage of women turns out to be cancer.
How do I know if a lump in my breast is normal?
The majority of breast lumps are benign, which means they aren’t cancerous. They have smooth edges and can be moved slightly when pressed against, and they are commonly found in both breasts. There are several common causes, including normal changes in breast tissue, breast infections, and injury.
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”).
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.
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.
Why do I have a lump in my breast that hurts?
A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer; lumps are often hard and painless, though some are painful; however, not all lumps are cancer; benign breast conditions (such as cysts) can cause lumps as well.