What is Breast Self Examination (BSE)
Breast Cancer is one of the few cancers which can be detected by physical examination, hence performing Breast Self Exam (BSE) regularly is an essential step a woman should take for herself.
Why is BSE important ?
BSE is not a screening tool for breast cancer, but it helps the woman to feel the normal changes in the breast and therefore appreciate the abnormal changes in the breast at the earliest. Any abnormality, such as, a lump, hardness, wrinkles, change in shape of breasts or asymmetry of breasts, nipples, or redness, can be an early sign of Breast Cancer.
BREAST CANCER, IF DETECTED AT AN EARLY STAGE, HAS A CURE RATE OF MORE THAN 95%
When BSE should be done ?
Make an examination a couple of days after the menstrual period ends, after tenderness or swelling of the breasts have subsided. Do not panic if there is any lump or swelling, but rather observe if it retains or grows over a monthly menstrual cycle. Always consult a physician when in doubt.
How BSE is performed – 4 STEP APPROACH
Step 1: Observe yourself in a mirror with your hands on the sides and your body erect. Look for any changes in breast size and colour. Make sure they are not visibly distorted or swollen.
Step 2: Observe your breasts again, this time with your hands raised up in the air. Look for any of the above mentioned signs.
Step 3: The next steps requires you to lie down comfortably and place your right hand underneath your head. Rest the finger pads of your left hand firmly on your right breast and perform a circular motion covering the entire breast. Feel all the tissues on the front and back of your breasts, applying variations in pressure to judge the tissues just beneath the skin, in the middle of the breasts and also the deep breasts tissue near your ribcage.
Some women are comfortable in examining their breasts by conducting the circular motions while moving outwards to cover the whole breast while others conduct circular motions while moving in a criss-cross pattern. Squeeze your nipples gently to observe any lumps or discharge.
Now repeat the process by placing your left hand under the head and examining the left breast with your right hand.
Step 4: Next stand straight and keep your hands on the sides. Examine yourself using the same hand movement in Step 3. Research has shown that it is easiest to conduct this examination when your skin is slippery or wet. Therefore, you can conveniently examine yourself while you are in the shower.
KNOW WHAT IS NORMAL FOR YOU, SO THAT YOU CAN APPRECIATE WHAT IS ABNORMAL WITH YOUR BREASTS.