Mammograms aren’t the only way to ensure the health of breast tissue. There are things you can do right at home - things you should do, like breast self-exams.
Self-exams are not complicated, and should be done on a regular basis. They should be performed monthly, ideally between days 7-10 of your menstrual cycle.
The key parts of a breast self-exam are look and feel.
The looking aspect is simple: stand in front of a mirror, and put your hands on your hips. Now check for any changes in size, shape, contour, dimpling, redness, or changes to the skin texture. You need to observe all breast tissue, including nipples, breasts, and the connective tissue from the breast to the armpits, where the lymph nodes are, so bring your hands up above your head to complete the inspection.
The touch part of the self-exam is also easy, because it is simply following a pattern. The pattern is about direction and pressure. Here are the steps:
Lying down, raise one arm over your head. With the opposite hand, reach across your chest and use your first three fingers to press in a dime-sized circular pattern, once each at three different pressures: light for the surface of the skin, medium for deeper tissue and firm to feel the chest wall. Continue with this pattern, moving up and down across until the entire breast has been inspected. Be sure to include the tissue connecting the breast to the armpit.
If all is normal, continue to perform these on a regular basis. If you detect anything unusual or find any changes, please talk to your doctor and schedule a diagnostic mammogram. Early diagnosis saves lives.
Originally posted 4/9/13 on mammographykc.com.