Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women – in fact, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast self-examinations are an important way for women to participate in their healthcare for the detection of breast cancer.
Forty percent of breast cancer cases are first detected when the woman feels a lump in her breast, according to Johns Hopkins Medical Center. It is recommended that you perform a breast self-exam once a month to check for any irregularities in the breast tissue.
How to perform a breast self-examination
- Look in the mirror – Examine the appearance of your breasts for any changes in their skin, shape, and size. Raise your arms over your head and look for irregular bumps or dimpling in the skin, as well as discoloration and discharge from your nipples.
- Touch – While lying on your back, raise one arm over your head. Gently apply pressure to your breast in a circular pattern using your fingertips, beginning on the outside and working your way to the nipple.
- Squeeze – Squeeze each nipple and check for any discharge.
If you do find a lump, call your doctor for a medical exam. Although it is scary to feel a lump in your breast, 80% are found to be benign, or non-cancerous. Once your gynecologist sees you and confirms the irregularity, you may be sent for further testing.
Mammograms are a type of X-ray that can detect lumps in breast tissue before they can be felt. Follow your doctor’s recommendation for regularly scheduled mammograms. Women 40 and older should have a mammogram every 1 or 2 years. If you have a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, your doctor may recommend a mammogram before age 40.
Seeing your gynecologist every year will help you and your doctor know when something changes that could be cause for concern. The skilled and compassionate gynecologists at University OB/GYN will work with you to ensure your good health. Call (315) 464-5162 for an appointment at our Syracuse office today, or request an appointment online.