In the UK, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer. Every year, there are around 55,900 new breast cancer cases. A breast self-exam is something you can do quickly and easily at home. By being breast aware and regularly checking your breasts, you can detect breast cancer earlier. The earlier you can detect cancer, the more likely you can treat it successfully.
Why Perform a Breast Self-Exam
There’s no wrong or right way to perform a breast self-exam. Using your hands and eyes to understand how your breasts look and feel can help you spot any changes and then contact your GP. Although many changes found during self-exams end up being benign, some changes can signify something more serious, like breast cancer.
If you notice any changes in your breasts, contact your doctor right away. Several conditions can cause changes in the breasts. So, by having a good awareness of your own breasts, you can keep an eye out for changes. A breast self-exam isn’t instead of breast screening; it’s steps you can follow at home alongside other protocols in place for early detection.
How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam at Home
Being breast aware means knowing what’s normal for you and knowing what changes to check for. Also, it’s important that you attend routine breast screening if you’re aged 50 to 70. Some of the breast changes to watch out for include:
- Change in size or shape
- Change in the look of the skin
- New lump
- Discharge from either or both nipples
- Change in nipple position
- Discomfort or pain in one breast
To perform a breast self-exam at home, follow these simple instructions:
- Start by standing looking in a mirror.
- Look at your breasts and feel each breast, armpit, and up to the collarbone.
- Check for the above symptoms with your hands at your side, then over your head, and lying down.
Dr. Riaz Agha talks you through how to perform a self-exam at home using quick and simple techniques in this video. A self-exam only needs to take minutes and is something you could include in your normal routine.
How Often Should You Do a Breast Self-Exam at Home?
Performing a breast self-exam once a month is a good way to get familiar with your breasts and spot any changes that may appear. The self-exam isn’t the only screening method for breast cancer. But if you can be more breast aware, you may spot changes in your breasts more quickly, especially if you investigate your breasts regularly.
If you notice any changes or have any concerns, contact your GP immediately. Changes in your breasts can happen for lots of reasons and the majority of the time end up not being serious. Lots of women have breast lumps that aren’t cancerous. But if you do see any changes, contact your doctor immediately just in case, as the earlier you detect breast cancer, the better.