The Importance of Self-Breast Exams

Middle Aged Woman Looking Herself In A Mirror While Doing Breast Self Examination

As women, we juggle careers, family, and a myriad of daily responsibilities, often putting our own needs last. However, taking time for self-care is crucial, especially when it comes to our health. One vital practice is performing regular self-breast exams (SBEs). This simple yet effective habit can be a game-changer in the early detection of breast cancer.

Why are self-breast exams important?
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment, and self-breast exams play an essential role in this process.

The best time to perform the exam is a few days after your menstrual cycle ends when breasts are least likely to be swollen or tender. For postmenopausal women, choosing a consistent day each month, such as the first day of the month, can help establish a routine. Consistency is key to noticing any changes over time.

Here’s a quick guide on how to perform a Self Breast Exam:

Visual Examination: Stand in front of a mirror with shoulders straight and arms on hips. Look for any changes in size, shape, or color. Check for visible distortions or swelling.

Manual Examination: Lie down and use your right hand to feel your left breast and vice versa. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping fingers flat and together. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side, from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Repeat in the Shower: Many women find it easier to notice changes when their skin is wet and slippery.

If you notice any changes or abnormalities during a breast self-exam, consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation. Remember that breast self-exams are part of a comprehensive breast health routine, and regular clinical exams and mammograms are also important for early detection of breast cancer. In women who have dense breast tissue, additional imaging tests such as whole breast ultrasound or MRI may help to detect additional cancers.

Remember, performing regular self-breast exams is an empowering step towards taking control of your health. It’s a small investment of time that can make a significant difference. Amidst your busy schedule, prioritizing this self-care routine can ensure you stay healthy and vibrant for yourself and those who depend on you. Take charge of your health today—because you matter.

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