Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells 1 . It happens as a result of mutations or abnormal changes in the genes that regulate the growth of your cells and keep them healthy. Breast cancer refers to a malignant tumor that develops in the breast, and the sound of it can be scary.
That’s why it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge and be aware of any changes that are happening in your body. cancer.org 2 states that when breast cancer is found early when it is small and has not spread, it’s easier to treat successfully.
So as for the age of when you need to start monitoring with mammograms, they state the following:
- women between 40 and 44 have the option to start screening with a mammogram every year
- women 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year
- women 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year
Mammograms can help to detect cancer before you feel the lump, but regular breast self-examinations will get you familiar with your breasts size and shape, so you can be aware if any abnormal breast lumps or irregularities develop. For women of all ages, doing regular self-exams is a great way to help monitor your breasts and be in tune with your body your body.
Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
Read on for our breast cancer self examination recommendations and tips. Performing self-exams can help you detect when something’s not quite right and alert your doctor with any changes you find.
Breast Cancer Self Examination Recommendations
Checking for breast cancer at home might feel overwhelming or confusing at first. Luckily, with a few simple steps, performing a breast self-examination is easy. According to nationalbreastcancer.org 3 , the following ways are the best ways to perform a breast self-examination.
1. When You’re in the Shower
nationalbreastcancer.org 4 suggests using the pads of your fingers and moving around the entire breast in a circular pattern. Move from the outside of the breast to the center of the breast, checking the whole breast and armpit area. Check both breasts every month and feel for any lumps, hard knots or thickening in certain areas.
2. When You’re in Front of the Mirror
Stand in front of the mirror with your arms at your sides to visually evaluate your breasts. Raise your arms high over your head, looking for changes in the breasts. You also want to look for swelling or dimpling of the skin (similar in appearance to an orange peel) or changes in the nipples. Rest your palms on your hips and press firmly so that your check muscles flex. Keep in mind, it’s likely that each breast will not match perfectly. Again, look for dimpling, puckering or breast lumps.
3. When You’re Lying Down
As you lie down, your breast tissue will spread out evenly along the wall of your chest. Checking for breast cancer at home can also be performed while lying down. Simply place a pillow under your right shoulder and place your right arm behind your head. Take your left hand and move the pads of your fingers around your right breast, going in small circular motions until you’ve felt the whole breast area and the armpit. Vary the amount of pressure you use (light, medium and firm) and squeeze the nipple to check for discharge. Repeat with your left breast. Again, do this once a month. A breast self-exam will help you know what is normal for your breasts and your body.
Tips for Breast Cancer Self Examinations
When you’re checking for breast cancer at home, there are a variety of helpful tips and tricks to keep your check running smoothly. From keeping an examination record to foregoing the fingertips, here are a handful of things to keep in mind.
Keep it Routine
Check your breasts once a month for irregularities and breast lumps. The more you check your breasts, the more familiar you will become with them. Each breast can vary slightly in size and shape, so being consistent with your examinations will make it easier to notice if anything has changed. A good rule of thumb is to perform your breast self-exam a few days after your period is over. During this time, your breasts won’t be swollen or tender, which will make it easier to check things out.
Get to Know Your Breasts
Befriend your breasts! Get to know them. If you become familiar with your breasts, it will be so much easier to tell when anything has changed and when you do, or don’t, need to alert your doctor.
Keep it Recorded
Whether you’re keeping a record on your phone, in a journal or on your computer, it’s a good idea to keep a record of your examination. Refer back to this as needed.
Take Your Time
When checking for breast cancer at home, it’s important to take your time. Don’t rush. Maybe doing your examination in the shower before work makes you stressed-out and anxious. Instead, light a candle on a slow weekend afternoon and do your examination then. The key is to stay on top of things and create a long-lasting habit.
Don’t Use Your Fingertips
As we mentioned above, you want to use the pads of your fingers to complete your examination. Specifically, use the pads of your three middle fingers for the best results.
Know that All Lumps Are Different
It’s important to keep in mind that all lumps are different. Many people want to know what a lump will feel like, but breast lumps will vary depending on the size of the lump, the cause of the lump and where the lump is located. Lumps may be painful, or they may be painless. They can be hard or soft, easy to move or hard to move.
Pick a Day
It’s a good idea to do your breast examination on the same day every month. Breast size, shape, and tenderness can fluctuate based on your period and menstruation cycles, so picking a day will help keep your checks consistent and make the detection of breast cancer easier.
What to Do If You Find a Lump?
If you’ve found a lump after performing your self-examination, follow these steps. You’ve taken the first step to being proactive, now it’s time to follow-through with the next steps. While your initial reaction might be one of fear, stay calm and move forward.
If you find a lump in your breast self-examination, don’t panic. 8 out of 10 lumps 5 are not cancerous and have little risk — and it’s natural for women to have lumpy areas in their breasts. Non-cancerous breast lumps 6 can be caused by hormonal changes, injuries or benign (noncancerous) breast conditions 7 like breast cysts.
Call Your Doctor
Wondering when to call your doctor about a breast lump? After you find a lump, you should always call your doctor in case. If there’s a doctor, like your gynecologist or primary care doctor, who has done breast exams on you in the past, this is a good place to start.
Make an Appointment
If you’ve called your doctor and made an appointment, know what to expect before you go in. Your doctor will discuss your health history and do a physical examination. According to breastcancer.org 8 , he or she will likely do an ultrasound for women who are under the age of 30 (or are pregnant or breastfeeding). For women who are over the age of 30 (and not pregnant or breastfeeding), a mammogram might also be performed. There are also additional image tests, like MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), MBI (molecular breast imaging) and a biopsy.
Checking yourself regularly for incidence of breast cancer is an important action to integrate into your wellness routine. Early detection is key for breast cancer and becoming familiar with yourself and your breasts is an excellent first step. Whether you’re performing your breast self-examination in the shower, in front of the mirror, or lying down, we hope our evaluation tips help with your routine.
If you found a lump and discovered that you have tested positive for breast cancer, we’re here to help give you peace of mind and will work with you directly to create a natural treatment for breast cancer.
At ITC, we place importance on personal attention and relationships. We focus on alternative cancer therapy and believe that your attitude affects the results of your cancer treatment program. We find that patients who have positive, hopeful attitudes see more successful results.
If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are curious whether an alternative breast cancer treatment could work for you, get in contact with someone from Immunity Therapy Center today. We will do everything we can to provide the best possible patient experience and to get you the best results.
We’ll customize your cancer treatment program and give you one-on-one time with Dr. Bautista every day to ask questions and evaluate your treatment. From all of us at ITC, we’re sending you positive energy for a hope-filled day ahead. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
To Learn More About Alternative Breast Cancer Treatment at Immunity Therapy check out this Video by Dr. Bautista
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.