Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month. If you’re new to breast self-exams, here are some guidelines:
- Pick the same time of the month – Because of the normal hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s body that affect breast tissue, it is important to select the same time every month so you will be able to distinguish between a normal change and something that feels different.
- Premenopausal women: Do your exam toward the end of your menstrual period. The end of the menstrual cycle is the time when hormonal changes have the least influence on breast tissue, and the breasts are the least tender.
- Postmenopausal women: Choose a day of the month (e.g., the 1st or 15th of the month) and consistently perform your breast self-exam on that same day every month.
Perform the exam again that same day but lying down – This way you will develop a feeling for your breasts in a different position, allowing for greater knowledge of the way your breasts feel. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important. Click on the following link to view a step-by-step video:
Symptoms to report to your physician
- Discharge from one or both breasts
- Inversion of a normally inverted nipple
- Dimpling—a pulling in of the breast skin
- Bulge—area of raised tissue
- Itching, irritated or scaly nipple with/without discharge
- Rapidly increasing pain with redness or rash
- Rapid increase in size of one breast
- Changes in the shape of a breast
- Change in the vein patterns
In you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, don’t wait, contact your doctor or the St. Jude Kathryn T. McCarty Breast Center at (714) 446-5650.