With breast cancer rates rising every day, it's important to adapt awareness into our health routines. Breast self-exploration is one of the most effective measures to detect anything unusual on time. Here's an easy 3-step guide on how to do it.
Although we are more aware of breast cancer every day, according to the World Health Organization, someone in the world dies from it every thirty seconds. The numbers are really high, considering that it’s the most common type of cancer (according to the National Cancer Institute). Having said that, we have to start by mentioning that there’s no way to avoid developing the disease, except for very few genetic cases like Angelina Jolie, who resorted to removing both mammary glands after a genetic mapping showed her genetic predisposition to breast cancer. These tests are extremely expensive and don’t apply to everyone in the world. For that reason, breast self-exams are still one of the most important measures someone can resort to to prevent and detect breast cancer. With that in mind, here’s an easy and effective guide that will help you adopt this practice in your health routine.
Step 1: Mirror test
This step is based on pure observation, so it’s important to know your boobs, how they look, and how they feel. The first thing you’ve got to do is stand in front of your mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms down, placing your hands on your hips. Notice how they fall, how they feel, the shape they have, and what color your nipples and aureola are. The next step is raising your arms straight above your head, and then put your hands behind your neck. Do this as often as you can so you can notice if there’s a change in color, texture, or even shape. Observe if there’s swelling, any rashes, or how the nipples look (check if they're protruded or inverted, if there are fluids coming out, or any other thing different to their normal state). If you do notice something different, keep an eye on your breasts for a while to see if it remains the same or if more changes, then report these to your doctor.
Step 2: Shower test
After a thorough observation in front of the mirror, you can proceed to the shower test. This step is easy since the wetness of the skin under the shower will make it easier to notice anything strange. First, put one hand on your hip, and with the other cover the entire breast (the one corresponding to the hand you place on your hips), with the pads of your fingers palp your entire breast in circular motions. Move your fingers to the armpit and apply some pressure to notice the consistency and how the muscles react to it. Repeat on the other breast and do this at least every month to notice any change or new consistency on your breasts.
Step 3: Bed test
Finally, we have the bed test, which can be done basically on any surface you can lie down on. This one is important because when you lie down, the breast tissue spreads and becomes flatter, making the examination easier to feel if there’s something unusual. So, once you’re lying on your bed with your whole back on the bed touch one breast with the opposite hand using a firm and yet soft touch with the pads of your fingers. Use circular motions changing the pressure. Make sure you also explore the regions surrounding your breasts such as armpits and cleavage.
Now, what to do if you find something strange? First of all, don’t panic. Finding a lump doesn’t necessarily mean you have breast cancer. Actually, for women, it’s important to make sure you’re proceeding to the exploration at a time in the menstrual cycle when your breasts are less swollen since the hormone levels during certain times of your cycle can bring changes to your breasts.
Finally, if you notice something unusual, it’s important for you to monitor it for a while, so that you’re sure it’s something regular and then bring your worries to the doctor so they can send you for more specific tests. The most important thing about self-exploration is to make it a routine, to take some time to do a thorough examination, and to set a pattern so you can be more meticulous in the process.
Here’s more info about your breasts that you might find helpful:
Photos my @lalovenenoso