In October, we celebrate breast cancer awareness. According to U.S. breast cancer statistics, over 12 percent of women (about 1 in every 8) will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. That’s pretty significant! While breast cancer is not unique to women, women are more prone to the disease.
In order to determine early symptoms, women can perform monthly breast self-examinations (BSE). Here’s how.
- Try to schedule these at a consistent time of the month so you work them into your regular routine. For example, you might do them on the first day of every month to help form a habit.
- Do a visual exam. Stand in front of a mirror and look for any irregularities in the shape of the breast. Also, look at the skin for any noticeable dimpling or swelling or changes in the nipples.
- Feel for lumps. You can do this in front of the mirror or in the shower by placing one hand behind your head and using the other hand to feel the breast in a circular motion (outside to in). Use the pads of your fingers (usually 3 fingers at once) to feel for any lumps or distortions. Feel into the armpit area. Then switch hands and check the other breast. You can also do this while lying down with one hand behind your head.
A breast self-examination is one of the easiest and most effective measures that women can take to increase their chance of detecting breast cancer early.