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Women Specific Issues
Updated on 3 November 2023
There can be many conditions that reflect on our breast health. For example, breast self examination is most necessary when you suspect the development of breast cancer in your body. Breast self examination for women is very necessary and should be done regularly.
A breast self-exam is a method by which women can examine their breasts for any lumps. You have to visually inspect and feel any unwanted changes in your breasts like lump formation and changes in size or symmetry. If you see any change in your breasts, consult your doctor. Most of the time, these changes in the breast are due to benign causes and are not cancerous. However, women with a high risk of breast cancer may have these changes due to malicious reasons such as cancer formation.
In many cases, hospitals do not recommend breast self examination because these really do not contribute much towards cancer detection. However, it is important to check your breasts so that you notice changes and can report the changes in your condition to your doctor. It is also important that the self examination is supported with mammograms and other breast screening tests.
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Examining oneself is crucial for breast health. You can find changes that could be symptoms of infection or breast cancer by performing monthly breast self-exams. Early detection of breast cancer improves survival rates. However, they shouldn't take the place of the examinations and screening tests advised by doctors.
Any changes in the overall appearance, feel or shape of the breasts
Any changes in the structure or texture of the nipple
Any wrinkling in the skin
Lumps, knots and spots in the breast tissue
Nipple or any other inward-facing area of the breast
Pain at a particular spot
An appearance of allergic reaction on the nipple
Visible redness, spots or warmth on the skin
These signs are indications of something wrong with your breasts and chest area. You should consult your doctor if you see any sign or a combination of different signs while self-examining your breasts. Like other parts of the body, you also have to check on the health of your breasts from time to time. Because our breasts remain under our clothing for most of the time, we often forget about the breasts. However, with regular breast examinations, you can ensure the complete health of your body. The process of breast self examination is very easy, and you can do it while you are in the shower or you are undressing for the night or dressing up for the day.
Visual self examination is performed in front of a mirror.
First, you must remove your outerwear and stand in front of the dressing table.
Examine the shape, colour and size of your breasts and nipples by placing your arms by your sides. After that, raise your hands overhead and observe the same. Make a note of any changes you notice or feel.
Finally, flex your chest area to check for any changes in the breasts. If the changes persist, you should consult a doctor.
For this, take off your shirt and bra. Then examine the left breast with your right hand and the right breast with your left hand.
Apply some pressure and then try to apply medium pressure.
Examine your breast for lumps, thick spots or other changes.
You can move your hands in a circular pattern to ensure that you thoroughly examine all areas of the breasts.
Examine your nipple and lightly squeeze it to see if any discharge is coming out. Repeat the procedure on your other breast as well. You can also check your breasts while lying down.
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You should see a doctor when you notice any kind of changes in the breasts that do not easily go away. If there are changes like discolouration and pain or if there is any kind of discharge from the breasts that should not be there, you should definitely go to the doctor.
You do not have to do a breast self examination every day, but you should do it once a week. The procedure can help you become aware of the changes in your body. This way, even if you have some developments, you can go to the doctor at the earliest and start with preliminary treatment.
1. Pippin MM, Boyd R. (2023). Breast Self-Examination. 2023 Jan 23. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL).
2. Dagne AH, Ayele AD, Assefa EM. (2018). Assessment of breast self- examination practice and associated factors among female workers in Debre Tabor Town public health facilities, North West Ethiopia.
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