- Examine your breasts regularly: once a month is often enough.
- The best time is just after a menstrual period, when your breasts are probably at their softest.
- It is important to continue regular monthly checks after menses stop.
- It’s a way of checking your breast for any changes every month.
- Even if you have an annual breast check up by a doctor or nurse or breast X-rays, BSE will help find any changes in between.
- It’s normal to feel some firmness or lumpiness as a result of the breast’s structure. As a general rule if you feel something unusual, compare with the other breast to reassure yourself that you are feeling normal breast tissue.
- Regular self examination means that with monthly practice, you’ll increase the chances of picking up any changes at an early stage.
FIGHT BREAST CANCER WITH MONTHLY BSE.
MAKE BSE A PART OF YOUR LIFESTYLE.
IF YOU FEEL A LUMP OR SEE ANY UNUSUAL CHANGES IN YOUR BREASTS, SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.
REMEMBER! BREAST CANCER IS CURABLE IF DETECTED EARLY & TREATED PROMPTLY.
The three steps of breast self examination
Step 1: Looking
Stand in front of a long mirror with your arms by your side. Look at your breast carefully, then raise your arms above your head and turn slowly from side to side, looking at your breasts as you move.
Important changes to look for are:
• Lumps in the breast or armpit.
• Abnormal skin changes e.g. change in colour, dimpling or puckering of the skin.
• Changes in the appearance or direction of the nipples e.g. nipples pulled in.
• Bleeding or unusual discharge from the nipples or rash around the nipple.
Step 2: Feeling your breast
LET’S BEGIN WITH YOUR RIGHT BREAST
The lying-down position
Lie in bed with a pillow under your right shoulder. Put your right arm under your head.
The standing position
To do BSE in the shower, using soap to help your fingers slide easily over your skin. Put your right hand behind your head and examine your right breast with your left hand.
Using your left hand, begin the first strip at your armpit.
Move your hand gradually towards the bra-line, move across about 2 cm to the left and start working upwards to your collarbone, making circles of light and firm pressure all the time. Work up and down your breast in strips until you reach the nipple.
Complete the nipple strip, paying particular attention to the area under the nipple, and continue the circles moving up and down in strips.
Remember the light and firm pressure in each spot. Examine the entire breast until you have completed the last strip between your breasts.
Step 3: Checking your armpit
Bring your right arm down by your side and feel your armpit firmly. Again, you’re looking for any unusual changes.
NOW START AGAIN, AT STEP 2, AND REPEAT THE PROCEDURE FOR YOUR LEFT BREAST USING YOUR RIGHT HAND.
A change may not mean it is cancer but it is advisable to check with your doctor.
Note: from NCSMPg BSE pamphlet