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 does normal breast tissue feel like?
Breast tissue is often nodular (lumpy) and varies in consistency from woman to woman; even within a single woman, the texture of her breast tissue changes at different times during her menstrual cycle and throughout her life.
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”).
What does a cancerous lump in breast feel like?
Breast cancer tumors are rigid with firm, angular edges, resembling rocks rather than grapes.
How do you check if your breasts are healthy?
Look for a change in the appearance or feel of your skin, such as puckering or dimpling. a new lump, thickening, or bumpy area in one breast or armpit that is different from the same area on the other side. non-milky nipple discharge. nipple bleeding.
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.
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.
Do breast lumps go away?
Some lumps go away on their own; in younger women, lumps are frequently related to menstrual periods and disappear at the end of the cycle; however, if you find a lump (or any change in your breast or underarm area), see your health care provider to ensure it isn’t breast cancer.
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.
Is it OK to have lumps in your breast?
That’s understandable, but 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 before.
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.
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).
How do you self check breasts for lumps?
Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side u2014 from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage u2014 with a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter.
What should I feel in a breast exam?
Inspect your breasts with your hands pressed down on your hips. Inspect your breasts with your arms raised overhead and the palms of your hands pressed together. Look for puckering, dimpling, or changes in size, shape, or symmetry. Check to see if your nipples are turned in (inverted).
What age should you start self breast exams?
Breast self-examination can begin around the age of 20 and continue throughout a woman’s life, including during pregnancy and after menopause. Breast self-examination can be done once a month.