Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Breast Self-Examination or self- diagnosis is an option for women starting in their 20s. Below are the techniques to perform BSE:
In the Shower
- Fingers flat move gently over every part of each breast.
• Use your right hand to examine left breast, left hand for right breast.
• Check for any lump, hard knot or thickening. Carefully observe any changes in your breasts.
In Front of Mirror
- Stand in front of the mirror with both arms by your side and look closely at both of your breasts
- Look for changes in size, color or texture (these may be signs of inflammatory Breast Cancer).
- Look for any changes in contour of each breast, a swelling, a dimpling of skin or changes in the nipple. Then rest palm on hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match – few women’s breasts do.
- Place pillow under right shoulder, right arm behind your head. With fingers of left hand flat, press right breast gently in small circular motions, moving vertically or in a circular pattern covering the entire breast
- Pay attention to any change (lumps, bumpy texture. Tenderness)
- Use light, medium and firm pressure. Gently press the nipple and check for discharge and changes in the nipple itself.
- After you examine your breast, move to your underarm (lymph node area) and look for changes there.
- Follow the same procedure on your left side.
Ultrasound is used to target a specific area of concern found on the mammogram. Ultrasound helps distinguish between cysts (fluid-filled sacs) and solid masses and sometimes can help tell the difference between benign and cancerous tumors. Ultrasound may be most helpful in women with very dense breasts. Clinical trials are now looking at the benefits and risks of adding breast ultrasound to screening mammograms in women with dense breasts and a higher risk of breast cancer.
Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health. Mammograms for older women should be based on the individual, her health, and other serious illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate-to-severe dementia. Age alone should not be the reason to stop having regular mammograms. As long as a woman is in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, she should continue to be screened with a mammogram.
Women at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. This includes women who:
Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history.
Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, but have not had genetic testing themselves.
A biopsy is done when mammograms, other imaging tests, or the physical exam finds a breast change (or abnormality) that is possibly cancer. A biopsy is the only way to tell if cancer is really present.
During a biopsy, a sample of the suspicious area is removed to be looked at under a microscope, by a specialized doctor with many years of training called a pathologist. The pathologist sends your doctor a report that gives a diagnosis for each sample taken. Information in this report will be used to help manage your care
Coping With Diagnosis
- Once you are diagnosed with Breast Cancer, you may undergo emotional strain. To cope with it, do the following:
- It’s natural to be anxious when you’re coping with a potentially life-threatening illness. To manage it, do not lose hope and try to keep the company of your loved ones around.
- There are many ways to find help to cope with the emotional impact of breast cancer. Friends and family can offer support or you could speak to your doctor.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for support from those who care about you. It can help to talk about your feelings and try not to distance yourself from people.
- Talk to other people affected by breast cancer
- For some people, talking to others who are in a similar situation can help to decrease feelings of anxiety, isolation or fear. You may want to consider meeting face to face with people in a similar situation.
- Regular physical activity has many health benefits, but it can also help improve your mood and reduce anxiety and depression.
- Eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep may also help you to cope better with stress.