Breast Self Exam as Easy as 1-2-3

Don't forget to check yourself for breast lumps. Forget how or never learned? Let's review!

First, take a look. Standing at the mirror, look at the breasts for any changes. Rashes? Wrinkles? Dimples? If you find anything new, you should get it checked out by a doctor ASAP. Next, take another look in the mirror while you're leaning forward to see if your breasts fall the same. Again, any asymmetry (other than a slight difference in size) should be evaluated by your doctor.

Second, feel left. Feel all the tissue of the left breast, probing in a spiral pattern from its outer edges to the center, or follow a pattern of "spokes on a wheel," all the way around. Don't forget to feel the outermost tail of breast tissue that reaches up into the armpit area, and feel for any new lumps in the armpit, as well. If you detect any new changes or irregularities in texture or feel, or if you discover a specific lump like a pea, get to your doctor for a check.

Third, feel right. Same instructions as per the left. If you do feel something, don't panic. Schedule to see your doctor for the next steps.

While I'm performing clinical breast exams in my office during annual visits, I always review with my patients these simple self-examination how-to's. I should also add: If you've learned some other technique, any examination will work as long as it will allow you to compare what you find today with what you found last month.

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