Once a month, a woman should self-examine her breasts. This is extremely important because early detection is the best defense against breast cancer. The recommended time women should check their breasts is about one week after your period. The process should only take about 10 minutes and it can be incorporated into your morning routine. To help you out, here is a step-by-step process to ensure your breasts are free of abnormalities:
- Before your shower
Take a couple extra minutes in the morning to lay in bed and begin your self-exam. With your pillow under your right shoulder, place your right arm behind your head.
Using the three middle fingers of your left hand, feel for any lumps in the right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch, keeping the fingers flat together in a circular, up and down, or wedge pattern.
It’s normal for breasts to feel lumpy, but over time you’ll identify your own natural lumps compared to abnormal lumps. Be sure to use the same patterns each exam and check the entire breast area. After moving the pillow under your left shoulder, repeat the same steps on your left breast, using your right middle fingers.
- In the shower
Repeat Step 1, but do it standing in the shower. Instead of using a pillow, place one arm behind your head as you examine each breast in the same movement patterns. Many women find it easier to feel their breasts when their skin is slippery or soapy in the shower. Remember to use a firm, but smooth touch.
- In front of the mirror
After you get out of the shower, examine your breasts one more time in the mirror. Look for any changes in the size, shape, as well as the position of each nipple. Keep in mind, it is normal for breasts to vary in size and one may be larger than the other.
Remember, each month you will become more comfortable with this exam and more familiar with the natural lumps and feel of your breasts. Keep track of how your breasts feel month-to-month and if you find any changes in the look or feel of your breasts, contact your doctor right away.