The top tip when it comes to Breast examination is knowing what’s normal for you.
Whilst technically your breasts are a pair, they are not mirror images of each other. Think of them as sisters rather than twins: the two sides won’t be identical when you check so don’t be alarmed.
Self-checking isn’t just about feeling your breasts for lumps and bumps, it’s also about looking.
Stand in front of a mirror and survey your breasts, first with your hands by your side, then with your arms in the air. Look for changes in the size and shape. Is there any wrinkling or puckering of the skin? Have the nipples changed position?
Is there any fluid or discharge coming from them? Are there any skin changes on the breast surface eg rashes or reddened areas?
Once the general survey is done it’s time to get “hands on”. Remember it’s right hand left breast, left hand right breast! Use the middle 3 finger pads to feel and use your hand as a paddle to steer you around the breast.
Start on the outside and work right round and inwards in clockwise circular motions towards the nipple. Don’t forget to feel beneath the nipple area. The tail of the breast lies in the armpit so checking in here is also important. The check is best done in the shower with a soapy hand. You don’t have to be regimented about this, ultimately the aim of the game is to get familiar with your own anatomy. Realistically with regular baths and showers you are giving yourself a breast check on a daily basis without even knowing.
If you find anything at all that seems out of sorts eg. a lump, a painful area ,a skin puckering or thickening see your GP – 90% of patients who present to GPs with breast lumps don’t have Cancer.
But you can’t be complacent, with the lifetime risk now a staggering 1/8, as long as you have breasts you have risk. If in doubt get checked out!