The Importance of Breast Self Examination

Forty (40%) percent of all women diagnosed with Breast Cancer found the lump which led to a breast cancer diagnosis.  It is imperative you do self-examinations on your breasts on a monthly basis in addition to regular mammograms.

Before breast cancer, I was absolutely diligent in doing breast examinations in the shower at least once per month.  When I found “the lump” that got me  to the doctor, I learned that the large tumor was underneath and not the lump that suddenly appeared.   I was unable to feel the breast cancer tumor in my breast because it was close to the chest wall, directly underneath the nipple, and I was a DD cup size. I was not pushing hard enough on my breast or doing examinations lying down in addition to upright examinations.

Just about a week before I found the “save my life lump”, I noticed my nipple inverted and my breast skin was having some minor dimpling.  I did know that these were possible indicators of Breast Cancer.   Because I noticed this, I was really paying attention to my breast.  And thank God I found that lump when I did.  I could have been Stage 4 instead of Stage 3 had it gone undetected for even a few more months.

Not only are you looking for lumps, but signs of Inflammatory Breast Cancer which most often does not form a lump.  According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the symptoms of Inflammatory Breast Cancer:

Signs and symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer include:

  • Rapid change in the appearance of one breast, over the course of several weeks
  • Thickness, heaviness or visible enlargement of one breast
  • Discoloration, giving the breast a red, purple, pink or bruised appearance
  • Unusual warmth of the affected breast
  • Dimpling or ridges on the skin of the affected breast, similar to an orange peel
  • Tenderness, pain or aching
  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the arm, above the collarbone or below the collarbone
  • Flattening or turning inward of the nipple

Here is a 5 Step Explanation with Diagrams to teach you how to do a proper breast self-examination.  I also recommend you ask your doctor to teach you how to do these simple procedures which could save your life.   Mark your calendar to remind you to do your monthly self-examination.

http://www.breastcancer.org/pictures/self_exam/step_1

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