With one woman being diagnosed as a breast cancer patient every 6.5 minutes in India, it has grown as a matter of concern in the medical fraternity. In the past few years, the cases of breast cancer among women have increased at an alarming rate, making mass awareness a must. Breast cancer is the result of abnormal growth of cells, which may lead to malignancy in advanced stage. The most worrying fact about the disease is that it does have any set characteristics and can happen to anybody.
As, it is difficult to define the reasons why it affects a woman, it becomes important for them to know about the disease as well as to exercise caution. So, if you belong to the chunk which believes in, ‘the sooner the better’, you are faring on the safer side of the ship. Drawing inspiration from the quote, Breast Self Exam is the most essential and effective technique of diagnosing the disease, at an early stage. However, self diagnosis is not very popular amongst the fairer sex, thereby aggravating the situation and the ailment.
Breast Self Exam (BSE)
Breast Self Exam is the self diagnostic technique, practicing which women can ensure timely cure of the ailment. Though, it should be understood that not every cancer can be found this way, but it definitely act as a preventive measure. The more you examine your breast, the more receptive you will become, against any anomaly, in case it occurs. As most women are uncomfortable in conducting a BSE, it is advised to the age group between 20 and 49, to go for a physical health check up every 1-2 years.
On the contrary, women above 50 years of age should go for a physical health check up every year. Its importance is fortified by the fact that nearly 10% to 25% breast cancers are found by the health practitioners, through clinical breast examinations. However, it should be noted that self examination of breast and a visit to the health practitioner, should be attempted simultaneously, in order to minimize the risk factors of having a breast cancer. To make the self diagnosis easy for you, some essential steps have been given below.
The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam
To begin with, examine your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Your breast should be their usual size, shape, and color, without any visible distortion or swelling. However, if you find symptoms like dimpling, puckering, bulging of the skin, a nipple that has changed position, an inverted nipple (pushed inward), redness, soreness, rash, or swelling, consult the doctor immediately.
The next step is to raise your arms and look for the same changes.
The same as above
Gazing at yourself in the mirror, gently squeeze each nipple between your finger and thumb, checking for nipple discharge.
If the discharge is a milky or yellow fluid or blood, consult the doctor.
Lie down on a flat surface and feel your breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few fingers of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Examine the entire area of your breast from top to bottom, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, from your armpit to your cleavage and from one side to another. For a better inspection, follow a pattern such as start from your nipples circling out to the edges. Be sure, you feel all your breast tissues, the one right below your skin as well as the ones down deep. You can do this by initially examining the whole area with a soft touch and then gently increasing the pressure.
If you feel a lump or a swelling or a tissue growth consult the doctor.
The final step involves examining your breast while standing or sitting. For your convenience you can do it by applying oil or lotion over the breast area. This can be done best in the shower when your skin is wet and slippery. Inspect the entire area of your breast as mentioned in step 4.
Same as step 4