Knowing how to conduct breast cancer self-exam at home is an important skill, particularly during the quarantine. This step-by-step breast cancer self-check guide (+ FREE printable PDF) will help you stay alert & recognize any signs of breast cancer early on.
Despite the availability of various successful treatments, in the last decade breast cancer cases have increased rapidly in most regions — especially in underdeveloped countries.
Mainly because of the lack of awareness about breast cancer self-exam in women which leads to late diagnosis & higher death risk.
- How Common Is Breast Cancer?
- Benefits of Knowing How to Do Breast Cancer Self-Check
- Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 1: Mirror
- Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 2: Shower
- Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 3: Bed
- Breast Cancer Self-Check FAQs
How Common Is Breast Cancer?
According to an estimate by The American Cancer Society, there were almost 268,600 new cases of female breast cancer in 2019. Out of these, approximately 41,760 women were expected to die the same year.
And as if that isn’t shocking enough, here’s a table by World Cancer Research Fund International showing the top 10 countries in 2018 with the highest breast cancer rates.
|No.||Country||Rate of BC per 100,000|
|5||New Caledonia (France)||98.0|
The breast cancer diagnosis reaches its peak after the age of 50 (or following menopause) and most deaths likely occur in the 80s.
Research shows that the two main problems contributing to the increased breast cancer rates are:
- Decreased number of births per woman
- High body mass index (BMI) leading to obesity
Benefits of Knowing How to Do Breast Cancer Self-Check
Here are a few reasons why you should know how to self-examine for breast cancer:
Breast cancer self-check can sometimes help you discover cysts or tumors at the early stages, making them easier to treat.
Dealing with breast cancer isn’t easy and is a difficult time for both the patient and her family. Women need immense support and strength to cope with the mental & physical toll that comes with chemotherapy.
Additionally, breast cancer treatment is super expensive and often leads to a financial burden.
In many developed countries, women are required to undergo periodic screening for breast cancer to identify who’s at risk or might have developed breast cancer symptoms. This ensures timely and urgent treatments and prevents irreversible harm.
During quarantine, most medical facilities in lesser developed countries are using their resources to treat COVID-19 patients.
Thus, breast cancer diagnoses or treatments aren’t exactly a priority at the moment. So it’s up to us women to stay alert about our health. Conduct monthly breast self-exam at home to make sure everything’s good.
Now let’s move on to the guide on how to self-check your breasts at home.
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Complete Step-by-Step Guide on How to Conduct Breast Cancer Self-Exam at Home
The first thing you should know is that breast cancer self-check can be performed using 3 different methods. You won’t need any diagnostic kits for these techniques.
We’ll go through the details of each method one by one.
Don’t want to read now? Download Free PDF for Breast Cancer Self-Check at home to take with you on the go!
Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 1: Mirror
You’ll need access to a mirror to observe your breasts and look for cancer signs.
Step # 1: Stand in Front of a Mirror
Stand naked in front of a mirror where you have a clear and complete view of your chest. I would recommend choosing a full-length mirror because it gives you better visibility.
Step # 2: Inspect Your Breasts in Four Positions
While standing, change your positions in the following ways so you can view your breasts from various angles and look for suspicious signs.
Step # 3: Look for Alarming Signs & Sudden Changes
While inspecting your breasts, look out for these changes:
Step # 4: Change Your Angle While Viewing
Turn to your left, right, and front sides to look for lumps and shape differences. This will help you check from various angles and find even the slightest signs of breast cancer.
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Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 2: Shower
This method involves two senses: touch and observe. Many women find it easier to examine breasts while taking a bath. Being slathered with soap enhances the ability to feel abnormalities. While this works for many, you can do this without the soap as well.
Step # 1: Apply Generous Soap or Lotion
Using soap or any products you normally use, produce enough lather so you can easily make slippery motions. Some women prefer lotions.
Step # 2: Sit or Stand in Front of a Mirror
Most women find it easy to feel for suspicious lumps when they are sitting or standing. You can choose either or both of these positions for this method. Make sure you have a mirror in front giving you a full view of the chest.
Step # 3: Inspect Your Chest in Three Ways
Turn left, right, and front while in the following poses so you get the perfect view of your chest and can identify any abnormal symptoms.
Step # 4: Apply Varying Pressure Using Fingertips
You’ll need to apply pressure using fingers to feel for lumps or hardened regions and simultaneously observe the chest using similar techniques mentioned in Method 1.
Here are a few things to be mindful of while using hands for breast cancer self-check:
Step # 5: Check For Strange Cancer Symptoms
If you notice any or all of these changes, it could be because of underlying cancer.
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Breast Cancer Self-Check Method 3: Bed
Lastly, you’ll need to lay down on your bed and use your sense of touch for breast cancer self-check. Laying down spreads the breast tissues and thins out the surface, making it easier for you to feel any signs of tumors or cysts.
Step # 1: Lay Down on Bed with a Pillow
Place a pillow underneath the shoulders as you lie down. While feeling the right side, the pillow should be placed under the right shoulder. Then shift it to your left while checking the other breast.
Step # 2: Position Your Arms
Spread out your arm straight over your head so you can perform thorough breast cancer self-check and check under the armpits as well.
Step # 3: Follow Proper Touch-and-Feel Techniques
This method only involves the touch sense. As done in Method 2, you’ll apply pressure all over each breast using your fingertips to feel for any hard immovable lumps.
Keep these tips in your mind while doing breast cancer self-check:
Step # 4: Look Out for Strange Signs
Check for any hardened masses or lumps or dry, wrinkly skin signs as they might indicate an underlying cancerous tumor development. Bloody, watery or yellowish nipple discharge could also be the sign of breast problem.
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Breast Cancer Self-Check FAQs
Many of you must’ve questions about breast cancer self-exam at home. I’m answering a few here but if I’ve missed any, please share them in the comments.
I hope this blog helped you understand the importance of why women should know about breast cancer self-examination + how to perform breast self-check every month.
If you found this guide useful, please share it across your network, with your friends and family. You could empower women to take charge of their health and prioritize their wellbeing.
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