Breast Self Examination
Breast cancer and testicular cancer are unpleasant subjects to think about. But as they are both very common cancers, their existence cannot be ignored. Up to one in eight women will get breast cancer at some point in her life, and testicular cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men under 40.
While there’s no surefire way to prevent either of these two cancers, self-examination may help boost the odds in your favour, depending on your age and medical history. Talk to your doctor to find out if breast or testicular self-examinations may be of value to you. If so, you can follow the techniques described below.
[Note: breast and testicular self-examination may not be appropriate for everyone. Your doctor can help you determine if you stand to benefit from these techniques.]
A breast self-exam (BSE) includes both looking and feeling over the entire breast and chest area, and as a general rule should be performed once a month. The best time to conduct an exam is about a week after the beginning of your period, when your breasts are at their least swollen and tender. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand upright or lie down on your back
- For each breast: move the pads of your middle three fingers around the breast in a pattern, making sure to cover the entire breast area. Try different patterns, such as vertical, circular, or “spokes of a wheel”
- Remember that most breast cancers are found in the upper, outer portion of the breast or in the area behind the nipple, so pay particular attention to these areas
- Also inspect the areas around your breasts, including the region from the armpit to the collarbone, and below the breasts
- If you began by standing up, lie down and repeat the same procedure; if you began by lying down, stand up and repeat the same procedure
- Stand in front of a mirror with your arms by your sides and check your breasts for any changes in size, shape or position, dimpling or puckering of the skin, pushed-in or misshapen nipples, redness, swelling or other irregularities.
- Repeat the inspection with your hands on your hips
- Raise your arms over or behind your head, and turn to each side to inspect your breasts in profile.