Though a mammogram plays a significant role in detecting abnormal changes in your breast tissue, a breast self-exam in between mammograms might help you detect a breast condition earlier. Your Manassas OBGYN expert at Capital Women’s Care would like you to know that noticing a lump in your breast should not make you panic.
Most women have breast lumps, most of which are normal, especially during menstruation cycles. As a result, your breasts will feel and appear different. A breast self-exam is crucial to help you understand your breasts’ normal feel and appearance. You should report to your healthcare provider changes that appear abnormal or when you realize either of your breasts has an issue. The medical professional may recommend additional tests, including an ultrasound to investigate the unusual changes, ruling out conditions like breast cancer.
When should you have a breast self-exam?
A breast examination is important at least once a month, even when you go for routine mammogram screening. Your gynecologist might advise you to do a self-exam five days after you start your menses because the breast tissues are the least tender, lumpy or swollen at the time. The medical professional might also recommend a monthly breast self-examination even during your menopause. In such instances, your medical expert will suggest a monthly examination. To do a breast exam visually, stand with your arms relaxed in front of a mirror and take note of the general appearance of your breasts. Check your skin for any changes in texture and the nipples if they appear inverted. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist for an evaluation if you notice changes in any of your breasts.
For a manual self-exam, your healthcare provider will suggest:
- Lie down on a comfortable surface
- Raise your arm and tuck it beneath your head
- Using the fingers of your other hand, firmly press down your breast tissue
- Move your fingers, spiraling from the center to the edges of your breast, checking for any lumps
- Squeeze your nipple for the presence of discharge if any
- Repeat the same procedure for the other hand to check for possible concerns with your breast
What happens when there is a lump?
Though most breast lumps are benign, you should not delay contacting your healthcare provider for professional assistance when you notice any of your breasts has a lump. The medical professional may suggest additional tests including:
- Breast ultrasound
The additional tests will help your doctor confirm or rule out the possibilities of breast cancer. However, you should not panic when you find a lump. Since monthly self-exam tests are your ideal tests to check for abnormal bumps in your breasts, a combination of self-examination, your doctor’s routine tests, and mammograms enhance your chances of detecting breast cancer in its early stages when it is easily treatable.
What are the signs you are likely to have with breast cancer?
While conducting a self-breast examination, your gynecologist might advise you to look for symptoms like:
- Abnormal changes in your breasts’ size and shape
- Nipple discharge
- Inverted nipple
- Nipple tenderness
- Unusual changes in your breasts’ appearance and look
- Thick breast tissue or lumps in either of your breasts
Breast self-exams are crucial in safeguarding your general well-being. Contact your healthcare provider to know how you can spare a few minutes to assess your breasts.