Breast Self Examination for Breast Cancer Early Detection
Breast Self Examination (BSE) is a Breast Self-Exam Procedure performed by an individual to physically and visually examine her for any changes in the breasts and underarm areas of the body. It has not been shown that Breast Self Examination alone can accurately determine the presence of Breast Cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has found evidence that suggests BSEs do not lower the risk for death from breast cancer. Therefore, if you choose to do Breast Self Examination, it should not be used in place of, but in addition to, clinical breast examination (performed by a health care provider every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women ages 40 and older) and mammography.
What I Should Look in Breast Self Examination
The purpose of Breast Self Examination is to enable you to become familiar with the normal feel of your breast tissue so that you can recognize any abnormal changes.
While doing Breast Self Examination, you need to look for:
• Breast Lumps that persist
• A change in the size or shape of one breast
• A dimpling or puckering of the skin (like orange peel)
• A retraction (pulling in) of the nipple
• A discharge (clear or bloody) from the nipple
If any of these changes are felt or seen while doing Breast Self Examination, you should consult a doctor immediately.
When Should Do Breast Self Examination
By doing Breast Self Examination regularly, you get to know how your breasts normally feel and look so that you are able to detect any changes more easily. Women can begin practicing breast self-examination at about age 20 and continue the practice throughout their lives – even during pregnancy and after menopause. Breast Self Examination can be performed every month. Become familiar with how your breasts usually look and feel so that you may notice any change that may turn out to be cancer
• If you still menstruate, the best time to do BSE is several days, or about a week, after your period ends. These are the days when your breasts are least likely to be tender or swollen.
• If you no longer menstruate, pick a certain day – such as the first day of each month – to remind yourself to do Breast Self Examination.
• If you are taking hormones, talk with your physician about when to do Breast Self Examination.
Breast Self Examination can help women detect cysts or other benign (noncancerous) breast problems between checkups. It can also help some women detect breast cancer — a disease that’s extremely rare among teens. If you go for an annual checkup with a doctor, he or she will likely examine your breasts to evaluate your development and ensure that all changes are normal. Your doctor may recommend that you get into the practice of examining your breasts yourself. It’s easy to perform Breast Self Examination, and it only takes a few minutes. Although it might seem strange or inconvenient at first, Breast Self Examination is a skill you can use throughout your life to help ensure good breast health.