Sunday, June 16, 2013

Have Your Checked Your Girls? The Importance of Self Breast Exams

I'm going to take a break from the breast shape series to remind you to do your monthly self breast exam.

One in 9 Canadian women is expected to develop breast cancer and one in 29 Canadian women will die from it. These are staggering statistics. However, the good news is, there is something every woman can do to decrease these numbers. Statistics continue to decline due to earlier detection through self breast exams, regular mammography screening, advances in screening technology such as Digital Infrared Imaging, and improved treatments. The facts are there; now it’s up to you.

It is important to do a monthly self breast examination to assist in early detection. You need to know your breasts; how they look and feel (involve your partner, as who knows your breasts better than them). Note changes in shape, color, skin type and any bruising, pimples or redness (possible indication of inflammatory breast cancer which is highly virulent).

Not all changes indicate cancer, so don’t be afraid to check of abnormalities. Sore breasts, for example, may be a result of menopause, a pulled muscle, or your menstrual cycle. A rule of thumb that I use is if the same condition is evident in both breasts at the same time, it is likely not an issue.

Although there is no absolute, hard-and-fast method for doing a self breast examination, the following provides a guideline for newbie’s.*

Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips. Here's what you should look for:
  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and color
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:
  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.

Step 3: While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).

Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use 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.

Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your

Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.

Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in Step 4.

Here's to a healthy and long life!

Ann and Tammy
real women. real bras. real beauty. ©2013, The Girls Bra Shop Inc.

* Guide and pictures are copyright property of and made available for sharing.
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