How To Give Yourself A Self-Breast Exam by Kitty Holman

How to Give Yourself a Self-Breast Exam

This October marks the 26th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While a sea of pink ribbons is used as a national symbol to promote awareness and research for a cure, breast cancer remains one of the leading common cancers in women, second to non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Aside from lung cancer, breast cancer is also the second most leading cause of cancer deaths in women.

In 2006, 191,410 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,820 women died, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year, resulting in 39,840 deaths.

While breast cancer is still a serious issue, there has been a decrease in mortality since the health campaign was initiated in 1985. Today, there are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. Part of the reason is that if detected early enough, breast cancer is treatable. Regular mammograms are extremely important in diagnosing breast cancer at its earliest development. Since most mammograms are scheduled so few and far in between, it’s imperative that one learns how to properly self-examine for breast cancer own their own. While breast cancer typically affects women starting in their 40s, the American Cancer Society recommends women as young as 20 to begin giving themselves breast self-exams.

Here are some breast-self-exam tips provided by the American Cancer Association.

1. Lie down and place your right arm behind your head. The idea is to have your breast tissue spread evenly over the chest wall.

2. Use your 3 middle fingers on your left hand and using a dime-sized circular motion feel for any lumps in the right breast.

3. Use three different levels of pressure to examine breast tissue: Light pressure to feel the tissue closest to the skin; medium pressure to feel a little deeper; and firm pressure to feel the tissue closest to the chest and ribs.

4. Examine the entire breast by moving in an up-and-down pattern that begins at your side near your underarm and across the breast to the middle of the chest bone or until you feel only ribs or collar bone.

5. Then stand in front of a mirror with your hands pressing down firmly on your hips and observe whether there are any changes in size, shape, contour, or dimpling, redness or scaliness of the nipple or breast skin.

6. Use the finger pads on your right hand to repeat these steps on your left breast.


This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: