Self-breast Exams VS Self-breast Awareness

Self-breast awareness and self-breast exams are healthy and all adults (yes, even men!) should use both to determine their breast health. But, what is the difference between the two and which is better? Here is some basic information about keeping up with your breast health.

What is self-breast awareness?

self-breast awareness is about knowing what your breasts are supposed to look and feel like. You can become self-breast aware by having an exam performed by a healthcare provider, feeling your own breast tissues, remembering what your healthy breasts feel and look like, and taking notes or keeping a journal. You must have self-breast awareness before you do self-exams, as well as after.

What are self-breast exams?

These are different than self-breast awareness. Breast self-exams are essential because they let you become aware of what your breasts feel like. You can do this by feeling each breast for lumps or other abnormalities, as well as checking the nipple and underarm areas. You can be breast-aware by checking yourself regularly at home.

You should do this once or twice a month because that allows enough time between exams for anything unusual to show up in one spot before another exam comes around. Your doctor may have given you instructions about how often to check yourself, but here are some general tips that can be helpful.

Standing in front of a mirror

  • Check the entire breast from all angles. Look for any changes in skin texture, dimpling, or puckering.
  • Notice if one side looks different than the other side. If so, make a note of it and mention it to your doctor.
  • Bring one arm across your chest so that you can feel each breast with the opposite hand.
  • Place your fingers directly behind the nipple and circle around to examine all of the breast tissue.
  • Next, place your hands on your hips.
  • Raise one arm and examine the underarm. Look for lumps, swelling, or other changes in the underarm area. The lymph nodes in the armpit should feel smooth and firm.
  • Repeat with the other arm, then both arms at the same time.
  • Examine from all angles including from behind so you can check all of your tissues.

Lying down on your back

Breast tissue extends from the collarbone to the end of the rib cage. It also goes above and below your belly button, so you need to check these areas as well. It can be easier to do this while lying down, slightly sideways. Be sure to lift both breasts and examine them by cupping in a circular motion, starting at the outer edge and working toward the nipple using medium pressure.

Tips for your self-breast exam

When it comes to these exams, you may feel unsure of what to do. Following these tips can help!

  • Ask your doctor for help.
  • Make a list of steps when you are at your next appointment.
  • Don’t let your fear stop you from doing self-exams! Breast cancer can happen at any age, but it’s much more likely as you get older.
  • Use the right pressure. You will need to use light (upper layer of tissue), medium (deeper tissues), and heavy pressure (the deepest tissues) during different steps of the exam. This is the only way to see if anything feels different.

Why should I have breast awareness?

You may be wondering why self-breast awareness is important. Besides knowing your own health and having peace of mind, here are some reasons why you should be familiar with your health.

  • Breast cancer can happen to anyone at any age.
  • Early detection is the key.
  • Breast awareness helps you know what a healthy breast should feel like so that when something changes in your breasts, you will be able to recognize it. This gives you a better chance of seeing your doctor and getting treatment quickly.
  • Breast awareness is the only way to know what’s normal for YOUR body.

Talk to your doctor about breast health

Breast cancer can happen at any age, but it’s much more likely as you get older. That’s why we encourage women to do monthly or bi-monthly self-exams in addition to making regular doctor visits. To learn more or schedule an appointment, give us a call at (806) 355-6330 today.

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Women’s Healthcare Associates

1301 S Coulter St # 300
Amarillo, TX 79106

Phone: (806) 355-6330

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© Women'Healthcare Associates 2017 - All rights reserved
Website design and marketing by UCI Digital