GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD)- Breast density is the hot topic in Michigan legislation right now, but prevention is key to good health. You should be doing monthly breast self-exams beginning by age 20. Clinical breast exams should be at least every 3 years beginning at age 20, and annually from age 40. From there, yearly mammograms should begin at age 40. Here is an easy, step-by-step guide to giving yourself a breast self-exam. (Information from checkyourboobies.org and breastcancer.org)
How to: Do it in the shower, while your body is wet and soapy. Use the pads of 3 fingers to check each breast for lumps. Move your fingers in a row pattern. Up and down all the way across one breast and then the other.
5 Steps of a breast self examination:
Step 1: Begin by examining your breasts in the mirror. Stand straight, shoulders back, and hands on your hips. Your breasts should be their usual size, shape, and color. There should not be any visible distortion, swelling, dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin. Other changes can include redness, soreness, rash, swelling, or if your nipple has changed positions. If you see any of these changes, bring them to your doctor’s attention.
Step 2-3: Next, raise your arms and look for the same abnormalities. While at the mirror, also look for any sort of fluid coming out of your nipples. This fluid can be watery, milky, yellow fluid, or even blood.
Step 4: The next step in the self examination is to lay down. Use opposite hand to breast with a firm, smooth motion. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage. Keep a pattern going (whether side to side or up and down) using the lawnmower pattern. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you’ve reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Step 5: Finally, move to a standing position, many women find that it is easiest to do this part of the exam in the shower. Once again, cover your entire breast (using opposite hand to breast) the same way you did in Step 4.